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US – Pennsylvania’s sports betting slows in February

By - 21 March 2022

Pennsylvania’s sports betting sector, including online and retail sportsbooks, slowed to less than $600m in wagering in February, an expected post-football hangover leading to the state’s lowest monthly handle since September. Meanwhile, a short month kept online casinos from reaching another monthly revenue record despite setting a state high for revenue per day.

“The Super Bowl is the most bet-on single game in the US, but it can’t alone replace a full schedule of football games,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayPennsylvania.com. “The lull in February is expected and always short-lived. March Madness should get sportsbooks back into record or near-record territory.”

Spurred by $68m in Super Bowl bets, Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks attracted $597.1m in wagers in February, according to official data released Thursday. That is up 17.2 per cent from $509.5m in February 2021. But February’s handle was the lowest since $578.8m in September, and down 24.8 per cent from the record $793.7m in wagers in January.

Bettors fared well in February, too. Wagers produced $22.2m in gross revenue for sportsbooks, down 33.2 per cent from $33.2m in February 2021 and down 58.5 per cent from $53.4m in January. With $22.6m in promotional spending, Pennsylvania sportsbooks ended up with a loss of $442,847 in taxable revenue, which put tax revenue in negative territory at -$268,976.

Super Bowl betting is vital to sportsbooks, and the heavy promotion for the game shows how operators view it as an opportunity. But even with the big game, there wasn’t enough betting inventory in February to extend a streak of four straight months of $750m in wagers or more.

“The Super Bowl is a prime opportunity for sportsbooks to expand their customer base, which is why they promote it so heavily,” said Katie Kohler, an analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “That took a significant bite out of tax revenue. But the industry is in excellent shape going forward, and poised for more growth.”

Online sportsbooks generated $558.1m, or 93.5 per cent of the state’s handle in February. FanDuel topped the state with $213.2m in wagers. Those bets yielded $6m in revenue for FanDuel.

DraftKings followed with $140.1m in wagers, which produced $4.9m in gross revenue. BetMGM was third in the state with a $72.3m handle, which led to $4.3m in gross revenue. Penn National’s Barstool-branded app was fourth with $46.8m in online wagers, which created $2.0 million in gross revenue.

Retail sportsbooks took in $39m in wagers in February, down from $56.3m in January. Those wagers produced $1m in taxable revenue, down from $5.8m in January. Parx led all retailers with $6.4m in wagers.

“The biggest concern for sportsbooks was whether or not they’d lose a significant portion of the baseball season, which makes up a relatively small share of annual handle but is the main bets generator over the slow summer months,” Kohler said. “With the Phillies and Pirates now expected to play full schedules, sportsbooks can look forward to the first normal sports calendar since 2019.”

Business at online casinos and poker rooms remained brisk in February with $123.7m in gross revenue, down 4.8 per cent from $130m in gross gaming revenue in January. Revenue was still up 36.6 per cent from $90.6m in February 2021.

In the end, online casinos and poker rooms gained a record $4.4m in gross gaming revenue per day over the 28 days of February, up from $4.2m per day over the 31 days in January. February’s revenue created $102.4m in taxable revenue, which yielded $42.3m in state taxes and local assessments.

“Online casinos aren’t subject to the same seasonal shifts as sportsbooks, which is a major reason why it is such a better revenue generator,” Kohler said. “When states see the success of online casinos in states like Pennsylvania, it’s a wonder why we haven’t seen the same wave of legalization that we have seen with sports betting over the last few years.”

Online casino games alone produced $120.9m in revenue on $4.1bn in wagers. Poker generated $2.9m in revenue. PokerStars topped poker operators with $1.6m in revenue, despite being one of two operators in the state that crashed for an entire weekend.

Penn National, which includes DraftKings, BetMGM, Barstool, PointsBet, and Hollywood casinos, topped online casinos with $51.6m in gross revenue. Rivers Philadelphia, which includes PlaySugarHouse, Borgata, and BetRivers casinos, was second with $30.8m.

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