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US – Pandemic accelerates maturity of Pennsylvania’s online gaming market

By - 18 August 2020

Pennsylvania’s sportsbook capitalized on the return of major sports to nearly double the handle from June to July, and the state’s online casinos built momentum as the Keystone State’s market continued to rebound in July, according to PlayPennsylvania analysts.

“The return of baseball and the NBA were seminal moments for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks, obviously,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “There is no making up for what was lost during the shutdowns. But with online casinos sustaining incredible growth, major sports back in play, and retail casinos gradually reopening, the industry is thankfully moving forward.”

Retail and online sportsbooks generated $164.8m in wagers in July, up 85.1 per cent from $89m in June, according to official data. July’s wagers were up 177.7 per cent from $59.3m in July 2019, when online gaming was still in its infancy in Pennsylvania.

Gross revenue surged to $8.1m, up 22.3 per cent from $6.7m in June and up 185.7 per cent from $2.9m in July 2019. July’s revenue produced $2.8m in state taxes. Sportsbooks have now produced $51.6m in state taxes and local share assessments since launching in November 2018.

“Even just over a week of baseball and a few days of the NBA was enough to unleash pent-up demand for wagering on major sports,” Mr. Gouker said. “August should be a huge month, with NBA and NHL playoffs drawing bets that aren’t typical in the late summer. That should help Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks make up a little of the revenue lost this spring.”

Online betting accounted for 94.3 per cent, or $155.4m, of July’s handle. FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino led the online market with $68.8m in bets, up from $32.9m in June, generating $1.4m in taxable revenue.

Retail sports betting remained relatively slow in July with $9.4m in bets, up from $689,534 in June and yielding $1.3m in revenue.

“The key for sports betting going forward is obviously the health of the various major sports leagues in the US,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “We saw with the Phillies that the pandemic can abruptly alter the sporting landscape. And with college football in jeopardy this fall, and the NFL still working through its plans, the fall remains quite uncertain.”

Online gambling generated $54.4m in gross operator revenue, or $1.8m per day in the 31 days of July. That was up from $50.1m in June, or $1.7m per day, in the 30 days in June. July’s revenue generated $15.5m in state taxes.

Online table games and slots produced $1.8bn in wagers, up from $1.7bn in June, resulting in $51.4m in revenue. Rivers-Philadelphia led the online casino market with $15.4m in revenue on $612.1m in wagers, up from $15m in revenue on $567.3m in wagers in June.

“The pandemic has accelerated the maturity of Pennsylvania’s online gaming market dramatically,” Ms Cross said. “By comparison, it took New Jersey more than six years to top $50mof online gambling revenue in a month. Pennsylvania managed to do it in less than a year. That growth has been vital to the stability of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry.”

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