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US – Pennsylvania sports betting slows again but still passes $5bn mark for year

By - 18 June 2021

Betting at Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks fell modestly in May, but still pushed the state past $5bn in wagering through fiscal year 2020-21. But as sports betting continues its summer slowdown, Pennsylvania’s online casinos and poker rooms racked up more than $110 million in gross revenue to solidify their position as the state’s most dependable gaming revenue generator.

“The seasonal slowdown will continue to be a factor until bettors can place bets on Eagles, Steelers, and Penn State football games,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayPennsylania.com. “And with the popularity of online casinos holding even as retail casino customers return, the state’s gaming industry is in relatively good shape.”

Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $447.5m in wagers in May, down 6.7 per cent from $479.4m in April, according to official data released Thursday. Through 11 months of the fiscal year, sportsbooks have accepted $5.2bn in bets.

Sportsbooks won $37.4m off May’s wagers, up 3.8 per cent from $36m in April, which produced $27.7m in taxable revenue. The month yielded $9.4m in state taxes and $554,930 in local share assessments.

The Keystone State’s month-over-month decline from April is steeper than the comparable states that have already reported May data, including New Jersey (up 8.9 per cent), Indiana (up 7.6 per cent), Iowa (down 2.9 per cent), and Michigan (down 4.9 per cent). But in April, betting volume in Pennsylvania was down 14.4 per cent from March, one of the mildest month-over-month declines in the US.

“Without a national betting holiday like the Super Bowl or the NCAA Tournament, the summer months are dictated more by local interests,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks are still well-positioned this summer, especially if the Sixers can figure a way past Atlanta, because they are less reliant on college sports than some other major markets.”

Online betting accounted for 91 per cent, or $407.4m, of May’s handle. FanDuel/Valley Forge was the online market leader again with $160.9m in online wagering.

Retail sportsbooks took in $40.1m in handle in May, led by Rivers-Philadelphia’s $6.7m.

“The retail market is returning to relative health,” Mr. Gouker said. “What we’re really seeing in Pennsylvania, as well as other markets, is normalization. Nothing could be more welcome after such a difficult year.”

Online casinos and poker rooms surged to a near-record $110.8m in gross gaming revenue in May. That was up 54.6 per cent from $71.6m in May 2020 but fell just short of the record $111.6m set in March.

Wagering on online casino games reached $3.3bn in May, up from $1.8bn in May 2020 and up from $3.2bn in April. May’s revenue produced $41.7m in state and local taxes.

Since online casinos launched in 2019, they have generated a whopping $1.3bn in revenue from slots, table games, and poker, yielding $432.7m in taxes.

“Online casino revenue continues to dwarf revenue from sports betting, and that gap should only grow over the summer months,” Cross said. “Even as customers return to brick-and-mortar casinos, the gains in revenue at online casinos and poker rooms made over the last year should hold. It has become a revenue-generating powerhouse for the gaming industry and for the state.”

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