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US – Pennsylvania sportsbooks have record handle in August

By - 17 September 2020

Pennsylvania sportsbooks enjoyed their best month since the state launched the legal sports industry in November 2018 as the return of major sports helped unleash a wave of pent-up demand.

Pennsylvania’s record $365m handle in August was so strong that it could surpass Nevada for the first time, which would make the Keystone State the second-largest legal sports betting market in the country, at least for one month, according to PlayPennsylvania.

“In what has been a difficult year, August’s packed schedule of major sports helped Pennsylvania sportsbooks make up some of what was lost from pandemic-related shutdowns,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “It is remarkable to think that Pennsylvania could surpass Nevada, the nation’s most mature sports-betting market. The state’s online products have helped bridge a gap that at one point looked nearly insurmountable.”

Retail and online sportsbooks generated $364.99m in wagers in August, up 121.5 per cent from $164.8m in July, according to official data released Wednesday. August’s handle represents year-over-year growth of 234.7 per cent from August 2019, when Pennsylvania sportsbooks managed to attract $109m in bets.

The growth in revenue was impressive, too. August’s handle produced $18.3m in taxable revenue, up 124.3 per cent from $8.1m in July and up 198.8 per cent from $6.1m in August 2019. August’s revenue produced $6.2m in state taxes and another $365,482 in local share assessments.

Pennsylvania had fallen just shy of Nevada’s $165.6m handle in July, and its record-breaking August could top the Silver Statem, which will announce August data later this month. Pennsylvania, like New Jersey, which generated an all-jurisdiction record of $668m in bets in August, has some advantages over Nevada, including a much larger local population, a market that is not as event-driven, and more robust online product offerings that have been increasingly popular during the pandemic.

“The continuing build-up of online and mobile sports betting, in addition to online casinos and poker rooms, is paying enormous dividends,” Gouker said. “Some gamblers appear to still be reluctant to visit casinos in person, and technology is bridging that gap.”

Online wagering accounted for 88.1 per cent, or $321.6m, of all bets in August. FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino was again the primary driver by accepting $144.6m in online bets, a 110.3 per cent gain from $68.8m wagered in July. Those bets produced $8.9m in taxable revenue, up 518.6 per cent from $1.4m in July.

FanDuel was followed by DraftKings at The Meadows ($86.9m handle, up from $39.1m; $1.2m taxable revenue, down from $1.8m)

Parx Casino ($22.2m handle, up from $9.1m; $1.5m revenue, up from $822,701)

The retail sector picked up steam in August, too, taking in $43.4m in in-person bets. That was up from $9.4m in July. Retail sportsbooks won $2.8m on those bets, up from $1.3m in July. The race for the top retail spot was claimed by Rivers-Philadelphia, which took in $11.8m in bets and topped gross revenue with $949,903. Parx Casino attracted $6.6m in wagers to edge Rivers-Pittsburgh’s $6.4m handle.

The online market could get another boost. Not only has the NFL and college football kicked off, but Penn National has launched its much-awaited Barstool Sportsbook App.

“Barstool is the most intriguing launch since FanDuel and DraftKings entered the market, and could really move the needle,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “It’s difficult to capitalise on such a busy sports schedule if bettors are limited in their online choices. The state’s gaming industry still has significant challenges, but its ability to entice so many online competitors has made the Pennsylvania market far more resilient.”

Online casino games and poker reached another all-time high in August with $55.9 million in gross operator revenue, or $1.8m for the 31 days of August. That is up from July when online gambling generated $54.4 million. Online table games and slots produced $1.9bn in wagers, up from $1.8bn in July. That resulted in $53.2m in revenue. Mount Airy/PokerStars, the lone poker operator in the state, generated $2.7m in revenue on poker, down from $3m in July.

All of August’s operator revenue resulted in a $15.8m injection into state coffers and another $6.3m in local share assessments.

“The continued growth of online casino revenue, even with opened retail casinos, shows that the industry has set a new standard for online gambling,” Cross said. “The popularity of these games should remain, and likely expand, over the next few months even as casinos steady.”

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