Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Overview for Thursday, June 27. In this column, we’ll set the stage for Keystone State sports bettors’ day ahead and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities.
Major League Baseball is front and center again Thursday, with both the Phillies and Pirates in matinee action. And we’ll continue our look ahead at the upcoming 2019 NFL season with the Steelers‘ chances of making the playoffs after suffering some serious personnel losses this offseason.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
Momentous Thursday ahead in Pennsylvania online sports betting
SugarHouse Casino’s PlaySugarHouse app could go from only to oldest in a flash. As we’ve reported this week, both Parx and Rivers casinos have been busy with mandatory multi-day testing of their online sports betting platforms over the last two days. Due to Rivers utilizing a platform that SugarHouse has already put through its paces, it got 24 hours lopped off the usual three-day testing phase for its BetRivers app.
That means the testing phase for both operators concluded simultaneously on Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will have to give its final blessing before either begins unrestricted operations Thursday. There haven’t been any indications of snags in the process so far. A launch date before the calendar even flips to July affords both online sportsbooks plenty of time to build momentum and work out any kinks prior to the most lucrative time of year: NFL season.
The early start for SugarHouse, Parx, and Rivers is important considering the Keystone State online market looks more crowded for fall. Which leads us to…
PGCB director looks ahead to busy summer/fall
Kevin O’Toole, Executive Director of the PGCB, recently spoke with PlayPennsylvania at the East Coast Gaming Congress, which unfolded at Harrah’s Atlantic City from June 12-13. O’Toole covered various topics pertaining to the Pennsylvania gambling scene. The progressive rollout of online sports betting is rightfully receiving plenty of the PGCB’s attention.
However, by mid-July, PA residents could also have access to online casinos, which fall under O’Toole’s purview. Operators offering both online casino games and sportsbooks will have no shortage of opportunities for cross-promotion and new customer acquisition for each side of the business.
O’Toole also noted that three new retail sportsbooks—Presque Isle Downs, Mount Airy Casino, and Mohegan Sun Pocono—should be operational by September. O’Toole emphasized the PGCB will stand ready to review and approve those operators’ online apps if they are ready to go before NFL season kicks off. We expect both SugarHouse and Parx to move into their permanent sportsbook spaces by summer’s end. Finally, O’Toole noted that FanDuel Sportsbook is another likely entrant into the PA online derby by the Week 1 of pigskin season.
Thursday’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Futures For 2019 Season
Pittsburgh Steelers To Make Playoffs
- SugarHouse Casino: Yes (+100)/ No (-121)
- Parx Casino: Yes (+100)/ No (-121)
Drained of some star power over the last couple of seasons, the Steelers are getting less respect than usual from the oddsmakers heading into 2019. Plus money on Pittsburgh qualifying for the postseason is an unusual sight. But the offseason exodus of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown—although Bell missed all of last season in a contract holdout—combined with the expected improvement of fellow AFC clubs like the Raiders and Browns have lowered expectations for the Black and Yellow.
However, as we’ve seen on multiple occasions over the years, stability at the quarterback position often masks other shortcomings. With Ben Roethlisberger back at the controls and coming off a career-high 5,129 yards, the postseason-savvy Steelers still have to be taken seriously. Granted, the road to get there isn’t going to be pretty, not with a surging Cleveland franchise and what should be an improved Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. But Pittsburgh still has James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and a more experienced James Washington on offense. Then, the defense added Mark Barron, first-round pick Devin Bush and Steven Nelson.
Therefore, a +100 price for a team that’s made the postseason four out of the last five seasons—and 10 times overall in the “Big Ben” era—is a value I’d consider.
The Pick: Yes (+100)
Major League Baseball
New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m. EDT
- SugarHouse Run Line Odds: Mets +1.5 (-162)/ Phillies -1.5 (+140)
- Parx Casino Run Line Odds: Mets +1.5 (-167)/ Phillies -1.5 (+135)
The Mets and Phillies played a couple of high-scoring affairs over the first two games of their four-game set Monday and Tuesday. They toned things down a bit just a tad in Game 3 on Wednesday, combining for a relatively modest nine runs.
They’ll be back at it for the finale Thursday afternoon. I expect it to be the lowest-scoring encounter of the four meetings with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola on the hill for the New York and Philadelphia. However, I see Philadelphia doing enough versus Wheeler and the questionable Mets bullpen to notch a win of at least two runs.
Wheeler has actually pitched very well over two prior starts against the Phillies this season. Yet facing a team for the third time in a season can often be challenging for a pitcher. Additionally, Wheeler has been in poor form more often recently than when he logged that pair of starts back in April. The right-hander has surrendered 18 runs (13 earned) in four June appearances. That’s even when factoring in his seven-inning, one-run outing against the Cubs in his last trip to the mound. He’s also yielded a 5.01 ERA, .287 BAA and .327 wOBA across 55.2 road frames.
Then, Nola did have trouble with the Mets in his one prior encounter. He surrendered five earned runs on seven hits over four innings on April 15. The right-hander has been a bit uneven recently after a stellar May. However, he’s been a markedly better home pitcher. Nola owns 3.19 ERA, .304 wOBA, 10.16 K/9, and 0.76 HR/9 across 59.1 innings at Citizens Bank Park, site of Thursday’s game.
The Pick: Phillies -1.5
Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros, 2:10 p.m. EDT
- SugarHouse Over/Under Odds: Over 9.5 (-112)/ Under 9.5 runs (-105)
- Parx Casino Over/Under Odds: Over 9.5 runs (-114)/ Under 9.5 runs (-107)
Joe Musgrove and Brad Peacock get the call for the Pirates and Astros, respectively, in the final installment of a three-game interleague set. The Pittsburgh offense showed plenty of life Wednesday after a one-run showing in the first game Tuesday. The Pirates managed a jaw-dropping 14-run outburst, largely at the expense of Framber Valdez early and position player/desperation reliever Tyler White late.. However, the competition gets a bit stiffer Thursday. Peacock has a solid 3.62 ERA and 1.10 WHIP overall. That includes a 3.38 figure and .222 BAA over 45.1 home frames.
In turn, Musgrove has actually been a better pitcher outside of his home turf of PNC Park. The right-hander has a 4.19 ERA, .228 BAA, and .278 wOBA allowed across 43 road frames. And he’s yielded just a single home run over that sample. Peacock hasn’t been too shabby keeping the ball in the park, either. He’s allowed a modest 10 home runs overall across 82.0 innings. And the Astros starter has surrendered four earned runs or fewer in nine straight starts. That includes three scoreless efforts (all at home) and a one-run outing as well.
Finally, consider the Under is 20-16-3 (55.6 percent) in the Astros’ home games this season. Additionally, both teams could give some key players a day off on “getaway day” and matinee affair the day after a prolonged night game, upping the chances of fewer runs being scored.
The Pick: Under 9.5 runs