Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for Friday, July 19. In this column, we’ll set the stage for Keystone State sports bettors’ day ahead and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities.

The long-awaited release of Pennsylvania’s June sports betting figures occurred Thursday. What was the impact of at least one operator being online for the full month? We’ll examine that and the overall numbers further. Then, we’ll offer betting takes on Saturday night’s Philadelphia Soul-Albany Empire Arena Football League matchup and the first installment of an intriguing series between the Phillies and Pirates.

Get Up To A $250 Match On Your Deposit With Bonus Code 250MATCH at SugarHouse PA

Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News

June numbers corroborate vast power of online sports betting

On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released the state’s sports betting numbers for June. The report was especially anticipated this month given that SugarHouse Casino had operated its online platform for the full month, albeit without access for iOS devices. Two others—Parx and Rivers—had their online platforms in testing phases at the tail end of the month.

The PGCB’s report revealed the state enjoyed its best month yet with $46.3 million in handle. That exceeded the previous monthly high of $44.5 million for March. And what exactly was the driving force in the significant uptick? It’s the same factor that’s proven a catalyst in nearby New Jersey: the availability of online sports betting. Even with just SugarHouse in full operation, online betting accounted for $19.3 million of that handle. That makes it responsible for more than 40.0 percent of the pie. SugarHouse’s online handle alone gave the state’s eight retail books a bit of a run for their money, pun intended. While the brick-and-mortar locations totaled just over $27 million worth of bets, SugarHouse saw an impressive $18.2 million.

We’ll take a deeper dive into the June report next week, including a look at how Parx and Rivers sportsbooks may impact the July report.

Friday’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks

Arena Football League 

Philadelphia Soul at Albany Empire, Saturday, 7/20, 7 p.m. EDT

  • SugarHouse Casino Point Spread Odds: Empire -4.5 (-110)/Soul +4.5 (-110)
  • Parx Casino Point Point Spread Odds: Empire -4.5 (-110)/Soul +4.5 (-110)
  • Rivers Casino Point Spread Odds: Empire -4.5 (-110)/Soul +4.5 (-110)

The Soul and the Empire have both clinched playoff berths. However, only Albany has secured its seeding. The Empire owns the top slotting among the four postseason participants. Therefore, it’s possible they rest some of their front-line players, or at least curtail their playing time during the contest. That could especially be true of quarterback Tommy Grady and star receiver Malachi Jones. Both players are absolutely critical to the team’s success. In turn, the Soul could slip to the No. 3 seed with a loss and wins by the Baltimore Brigade and/or Washington Valor.

Therefore, it’s likely Philadelphia has plenty of motivation and affords its starters a normal number of snaps. The two clubs have met twice previously this season. In Week 3, Albany prevailed by a 57-48 score. In Week 10, the Soul countered with a 54-43 victory. Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh lit up the vulnerable Empire secondary for seven touchdown passes in the latter meeting. He fell just short of that mark during his losing effort in Week 3. Raudabaugh compiled 309 yards and six scoring throws in that contest.

Grady hasn’t been bad himself versus the Soul. He’s racked up a 12:2 TD:INT against Philly in those two meetings. However, as stated earlier, he’s unlikely to play a full game Saturday with the top seed locked up. It’s also worth noting Albany has been challenged by any and all passing attacks this season. They’ll check into Saturday night’s game allowing the most passing yards per contest (250.5) in the league for the season, along with 51 touchdown passes.

Given the conditions surrounding each team and the Soul offense’s prior body of work against Albany’s suspect defense, I see Philly at least managing a cover.

The Pick: Soul +4.5

Major League Baseball

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 p.m. EDT

  • SugarHouse Casino Run Total Odds: Over 9.5 (-115)/ Under 9.5 (+100)
  • Parx Casino Run Total Odds: Over 9.5 (-118)/ Under 9.5 (-103)
  • Rivers Casino Run Total Odds: Over 9.5 (-115)/ Under 9.5 (+100)

The latest installment of the Battle of Pennsylvania unfolds Friday night at PNC Park. The Phillies send out veteran Jake Arrieta while the Pirates counter with Jordan Lyles. Concerns surround both pitchers. For Arrieta, it’s a bone spur on the elbow of his throwing arm. For Lyles, it’s a string of very poor performances that have caused his numbers to balloon across the board.

Arrieta actually managed his physical issues very well in his first start out of the All-Star break. He held the Nationals to just one earned run on four hits over five innings on Sunday. However, he has been just average overall this season. Arrieta’s 4.54 ERA is his highest since the 2014 season. He sports a middling 8-7 record, while his 1.45 WHIP is the third highest of his career. Plus, Arrieta owns a 4.81 ERA, .300 BAA, and .366 wOBA across 58 road innings.

Meanwhile, Lyles posted a 6.00 ERA, .290 BAA, and .378 wOBA over his 15 innings in June. He’s followed that up with a disastrous start to July. The right-hander has yielded seven earned runs apiece in two starts against the Cubs. That’s led to two losses and a 27.00 ERA thus far in the current month. For the season, Lyles also sports a troubling 5.17 ERA, .294 BAA, and .354 wOBA at PNC across 38.1  innings. Just as concerning is that the amount of hard-contact Lyles is allowing has risen sharply as the season has unfolded. After yielding sub-35.0 percent HC rates in April and May, Lyles surrendered a figure of 45.8 in June and an even worse 52.6 percent so far in July.

Finally, consider the bullpens when evaluating the chance of the Over hitting. Pirates relievers have yielded a .334 wOBA so far in July, including .342 at home. In turn, the Phillies bullpen has surrendered 12 home runs and a .361 wOBA over that same period.

The Pick: Over 9.5 runs

                     View up-to-the-minute odds and daily promotions at SugarHouse Sportsbook