Pennsylvania established a state lottery in 1971, one of the first states to do so. Gambling has been big there ever since. But the state only established its Gaming Control Board in 2004, and then only allowed land-based casinos and racetracks. Online gambling was still not legal even though it was gaining in popularity by this time.
Thanks to a bill signed into law on October 31, 2017, Pennsylvania residents – and anyone else who is in the state – can now gamble online with state-licensed casinos. While any U.S. citizen can create and browse an online casino account from anywhere in the country, they must be physically located within Pennsylvania’s state lines to play for real money on state-licensed casino sites.
You can play for free from home but if you don’t live in Pennsylvania you must travel to the state to play for real money.
The silver lining in this cloud is that you can test the games without risk first to see if you enjoy playing them. If you’ll be traveling through Pennsylvania later this year and want to gamble online during the experience, then “know before you go” seems like a good plan.
Pennsylvania’s online casinos are mobile-friendly
This is a big deal for most travelers, who either use smartphones or tablet PCs when they travel around. Business travelers and independent workers are more likely to have laptop computers with them.
But even if you’re traveling into or living in Pennsylvania, mobile apps don’t yet allow players to bet real money at the Pennsylvania online casinos. This is due to legal restrictions.
For the best gaming experience and to play for real money online, you’ll need a desktop or laptop computer. If your tablet PC connects to the desktop website then that should also work.
NetEnt is one of the most popular slot game makers
Each online casino has its own game software partners but NetEnt is used by more online Pennsylvania casinos than any other game developer.
NetEnt publishes over 100 online slot machine games and they also publish the RTP – theoretical Return To Player – percentages on their website.
Some of their most popular titles include Dead Or Alive, Gonzo’s Quest, and Jack and the Beanstalk.
IGT also provides slot games to some Pennsylvania casinos
IGT – International Gaming Technology – is one of the leading providers of land-based slot machine games. If you have ever played slots in a Las Vegas or Atlantic City casino, you’ve probably played on an IGT machine.
IGT offers a wide range of online slot games – most based on their popular land-based slot machines – for vendors around the world. IGT slots are among the most popular. Some of their most popular titles include Fort Knox, The Goonies, and Hot Bar 7.
IGT is more flexible with its RTP settings. Because they provide games to markets around the world, their games can be configured by the casinos to provide different RTPs. Some casinos take them as low as possible – about 80% in most jurisdictions – but other casinos prefer higher RTPs of 92% or better.
How theoretical return to player works
The theoretical return percentage is an estimate of how much money – on average – players can expect to keep on a single pass through their gambling budget.
In other words, suppose 1,000 players each start gambling with $100. If they each only make 20 bets of $5 and stop playing after betting $100, then the 1,000 players should end with about $96,000. The house is expected to keep about 4% of that first $100,000 in wagers.
That doesn’t mean every player will end up with $96. Some will lose most or all of their money and some will walk away with more than $100.
The theoretical return is not a promise to you that you will win. It is an estimate of how much all players retain – collectively – of their original wagering budgets over time.
Theoretical RTPs are based on endless playing but casinos report earnings on a monthly basis. If you were to dig into the casinos’ monthly financial reports you might find they make more or less than 4% on their slot games each month.
How to get the most from playing online Pennsylvania slot games
You can join more than one casino. Creating an account is free and simple. It’s best to give yourself a little variety.
When you join an online casino you may be presented with a welcome bonus option. These bonuses may consist of free games, a small amount of money to play with for free, or a matching deposit based on your first deposit.
When you’re ready to play for real money – i.e., actually inside the Pennsylvania state lines – make your first deposit and get the welcome promotion.
You’ll also want to sign up for future promotional offers.
Read the terms and conditions carefully so that you understand what limits apply and what you’re required to do.
It’s best to extend the value of your real money gaming as much as possible. The more games you can play the better your chances of winning a nice prize.
Use the demo play versions of online slot games
The free play options give you a chance to learn how to play the games. Each game is slightly different. To simplify the gaming process, every vendor uses a fairly standard interface for their games but each vendor’s game controls and widgets are slightly different from the others.
Although there is no strategy involved in playing slot machine games, you should look at their theoretical return to player estimates.
The demo versions of slot games work just like the real money versions of the games. Just be aware that the demo version of a game has its own starting balance that is usually much higher than what you’ll deposit in a real money game.
If it takes you a long time to enjoy playing a demo slot game then try several others. Even when playing for real money you should enjoy the experience.
Best ways to bet on slot machine games
Unlike card games such as blackjack and poker, slot machine games don’t depend on player skill or knowledge of rules. The games generate random outcomes that are represented by spinning reels.
But the choice of slot machine game matters. The more you know about a slot game’s payouts and probability percentages, the better.
In addition to the theoretical return to player, you should also pay attention to the volatility or variance of a slot machine game. Most players are unaware of these statistical measurements.
Every form of gambling game can be measured for volatility or variance, which is often defined as the average frequency in which prizes are paid to players. A game that pays prizes on average 1 in every 6 plays is more volatile than a game that pays prizes on average 1 in every 3 plays.
Some players speak of how much an average prize is worth when talking about volatility or variance. Experienced players use a rule of thumb that frequent prizes tend to be smaller than infrequent prizes.
In other words, if two games have the same RTP of 95% then the low variance game is more likely to pay many smaller prizes and the higher variance game is more likely to pay fewer but larger prizes.
Players can’t do anything about a game’s programmed variance but they do have a say in how much they vary their own wagers.
A conservative player is more likely to make maximum wagers on a low variance game because they are less likely to lose their money quickly. The larger your wager the more money you win back.
An aggressive player is more likely to make maximum wagers on high variance games, hoping to stay in the game long enough to win a big prize.
Your prize amount is adjusted based on how much you wager. And may slot machine games – especially progressive slots – require you to make a maximum wager in order to win the largest possible prize.
How to choose the best slot machine games to play
When gambling at an online casino in Pennsylvania, you should use the Demo Play mode on the slots as often as possible. In this way you get a better idea of which games have more or less volatility.
As you play the free games, read their rules. Learn which games offer a lot of bonus round options. On some slot machine games players believe the bonus rounds are where the most generous prizes are paid.
To make things interesting, some slot machine games ask players to choose between bonus round options. You may have to trade off between more free spins and higher prize multipliers.
These kinds of choices make the games more interesting, but they also give players a way to temporarily adjust the variance of the game’s programming. The expected return to player doesn’t change. It will be about the same either way.
The idea is to let players enjoy their bonus rounds in as many ways as possible. This flexibility keeps the games interesting, but it also helps a game appeal to both conservative and aggressive players.
Best way to manage money when playing slot machine games
The state of Pennsylvania wants players to enjoy their games. But anyone who has played either online or at a land-based casino knows there are warnings about responsible gaming and where to look for help. These warnings acknowledge the reality of addiction problems.
How do you know if you have a gambling problem?
It will affect your lifestyle and lead you to make poor choices. Most experts agree that if you are able to limit your game play and respect boundaries you set for yourself, you don’t have a gambling problem. Here are a few tips.
- Budget for gambling just like any other form of entertainment. Plan ahead how much you will spend on any gambling experience.
- Set time limits for yourself. Set an alarm if you must to remind you of how long you have been playing. This is a good idea for both land-based and online gaming.
- Set stop-loss and stop-win limits for each game you play. Just as stock market investors do, gamblers can get out of a game when they have lost or won a certain percentage of money.
- Take breaks while playing. Get up and move around even if you’re gambling from home or in a hotel room. Give your body a chance to move and stretch.
- Stop playing when you exhaust your gambling budget. Don’t go get more money. Don’t try to win back what you lost.
You don’t have to live or work in Pennsylvania to gamble at Pennsylvania casinos. As long as you can travel to the state you’re welcome to play for real money in local casinos or on their websites.
Being able to register an account from anywhere in the USA is a great advantage for American players. It’s a convenience that makes gaming in the Keystone State more fun.
The free play options at Pennsylvania online casinos also allow players to test games without having to risk any money. If you’ve heard about a slot machine game and would like to try it, the Demo Play modes most online casinos offer are a great choice.
If you’ve joined any of the casinos’ player rewards programs you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that you usually get the most points for playing their slot games. Although you can only earn points when playing for real money, you can use the reward program points to enjoy many other benefits.