Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for Thursday, July 11. In this column, we’ll set the stage for Keystone State sports bettors’ day ahead and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities.

We’re officially out of the All-Star break as of Thursday night. Major League Baseball welcomes the second half of the season with one game, an AL West battle between the Astros and Rangers. We’ll take a look at the moneyline odds for both that contest and the Pirates’ matinee battle versus the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon. Before that, we’ll take a closer look at how sportsbook platform provider Kambi Group is establishing both a digital and physical presence in Pennsylvania.

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Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News

Kambi Group establishing significant Philadelphia presence

European business-to-business gaming sports betting platform provider Kambi Group has enjoyed an international presence for years. Now, the company has picked none other than Philadelphia as the location to establish its first U.S. offices.

A recent article in The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a deep dive into Kambi, its burgeoning presence in the state, and its role in powering the sportsbook offerings of the first three online offerings in PA: SugarHouse Casino, Parx Casino, and Rivers Casino.

Kambi and that trio of operators will soon have more competition on the state’s online marketplace. That’s expected to start in the form of FanDuel Sportsbook. FD’s offering in partnership with Valley Forge Casino still projects for a launch date sometime in July.

Kambi is headquartered in Malta and has primary operations in Stockholm and London. According to the article, the company is looking to hire up to 60 employees for its Philadelphia offices in the city’s Wanamaker Building. Per the story, Kambi believes Philly houses an ample talent pool of passionate sports fans who also have an aptitude for the other aspects of a sportsbook-centered operation.

Thursday’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks

Major League Baseball

Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, 8:05 p.m. EDT

  • SugarHouse Casino Moneyline Odds: Astros -150/ Rangers +125
  • Parx Casino Moneyline Odds: Astros -150/ Rangers +123
  • Rivers Casino Moneyline Odds: Astros -150/Rangers +123

The MLB shines its lone spotlight on the Astros and Rangers on Thursday. The two teams get a prime-time, “island” game to ring in the second half of the 2019 season. Houston will send the inconsistent Framber Valdez to the mound. The Rangers counter with veteran Lance Lynn. The right-hander has enjoyed a resurgent campaign in Texas thus far. He finished the first half with an 11-4 record, 3.91 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and his best K/9 (9.6) since his rookie 2011 season in St. Louis.

Valdez is 3-4 with a 4.57 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and elevated 3.8 BB/9. The young lefty has started only four games in his 18 big-league appearances this season. He’s also had a rougher time on the road. Valdez sports a 5.09 ERA and .339 wOBA allowed across 17.2 road frames. He’ll face a Rangers team that owns a 29-17 home record and is scoring the third-most runs per game (5.7) at home. Globe Life Park also checks in with a top-half ranking in run factor (1.032) and home-run factor (1.077).

Lynn also has a quality start against the Astros in their one encounter this season (May 10 at Minute Maid Park). He’s held current Houston bats to a collective .203/.266/.390 over a career sample of 59 at-bats. Given the pitching matchup and Texas’ strong home record overall, I’m going with the favorable price on the Rangers moneyline.

The Pick: Rangers moneyline

Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs, Friday, July 12 at 2:20 p.m. EDT

  • SugarHouse Casino Moneyline Odds: Pirates +135/ Cubs -165
  • Parx Casino Moneyline Odds: Pirates +135/ Cubs -165
  • Rivers Casino Moneyline Odds: Pirates +135/ Cubs -165

The Pirates open their second half versus a team against which they’ve enjoyed success this season. Pittsburgh is 4-3 against the Cubs. Friday’s pitching is a rematch of a July 3 showdown at PNC Park. Chris Archer toes the rubber for the Bucs while Yu Darvish is on the mound for the Cubs. Both hurlers did a solid job in that prior game. Archer recorded eight strikeouts while allowing three earned runs on five hits over five innings. Darvish completed 6.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits while recording six whiffs of his own.

Notably, both pitchers had trouble keeping the ball in the park. All three of the runs Archer surrendered came on solo blasts. Darvish saw three of the four on his ledger come from homers as well. The setting of Friday’s matinee is Wrigley Field, however. That should lead to a more controlled offensive environment. Coming out of the All-Star break, Wrigley sports the fourth-lowest run factor (0.827) and home-run factor (0.748).

Yet Darvish’s struggles, particularly in daytime games, are hard to ignore. The veteran right-hander has a 6.58 ERA and .280 BAA across 26.0 daytime frames. He also owns a 6.23 ERA and .353 wOBA allowed across 47.2 home innings. Archer hasn’t been any great shakes on the road himself. He sports a 7.89 ERA, .283 BAA, and .393 wOBA allowed outside of PNC Park. Still, he finished the first half on a better note overall. Archer had a 3.86 ERA and .204 BAA over the 14 innings across his last three pre-All-Star-break starts.

The Cubs are also a less potent offense at home (4.8) than on the road (5.3)—another point in the Pirates’ favor overall. With a good price on Pittsburgh, their 20-18 daytime record and Darvish’s struggles at home, I lean toward a flier on the Pirates.

The Lean: Pirates +135

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