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US – Pennsylvania’s sports betting slumps to lowest revenue in a year

By - 18 August 2021

Pennsylvania’s sports betting volume slipped in July to the lowest level since July 2020, falling to $304m and continuing a slowing trend in July that has affected nearly every major US market.

“Even with the NBA Finals and the Olympics to help boost the schedule this year, bettors in Pennsylvania and beyond just don’t engage sportsbooks as much during July,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayPennsylania.com. “This year in particular saw a surge in nationwide travel, which means people were occupied with family vacations and other summer activities. That said, sportsbooks cannot wait for football season to ramp up.”

Bettors placed $304.4m in wagers at Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks in July, down 27.6 per cent from $420.2m in June, according to official data released Monday. July’s handle was up 84.7 per cent from $164.8m in July 2020, which was the last month with a handle of less than $364m and featured the relaunch of baseball and the NBA after a months-long hiatus.

Lower volume sapped gross gaming revenue, which fell 35.3 per cent to $27.5m from $42.5m in June, but up 101.3 per cent from $13.7m in July 2020. The month’s gross receipts led to $19.9m in taxable revenue, which yielded $6.8m in state taxes and $397,124 in local share assessments.

The drop in wagering has historical context. July was the lowest volume month in the US in both 2018 and 2019, before the pandemic permuted sports betting data in 2020.

“The time zone difference dampened interest in the Olympics, but they were likely never going to move the needle significantly anyway,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “The Phillies playing better almost certainly helped. But seasonal dips this time of year are nothing to be concerned about.”

Online betting accounted for $275.4m in wagers, making up 90.5 per cent of the state’s total handle in July. Once again, FanDuel topped the online market with $106.7m in online wagering — down 34.3 per cent from $162.5m in June. FanDuel’s gross gaming revenue from online betting fell to $12.3m, yielding $9.5m in taxable revenue.

Meanwhile, retail sportsbooks took in $29m in wagers in June, down from $40m in June. Those bets yielded $2.7m in gross gaming revenue. Rivers Philadelphia topped the retail market with $5.9m in bets.

“The pandemic will continue to be the most important factor for the retail market for the foreseeable future,” Gouker said. “As the latest surge shows, the hope that retail sports betting would return to normal by football season seems overly optimistic.”

Gross gaming revenue from online casinos and poker rooms rose 3.6 per cent to $104.5m from $100.8m in June. Year-over-year, iGaming gross revenue is up 52.9% from $68.4 million in July 2020.

July’s gross revenue was whittled to $88.7m in taxable revenue, down from $88.9m in June. That still produced $38.2m in state and local taxes.

Online casinos and poker rooms have now produced $508.1m in state and local taxes over the more than two years since launching in July 2019. Only New Jersey has wrung more tax revenue from online casinos and poker with $662.6m — but that market launched in November 2013, nearly six years before Pennsylvania.

“As closely as it now tracks with New Jersey, no state benefits more from online gambling than Pennsylvania,” Cross said. “There was a lot of concern in the industry that regulators had initially set tax rates too high, and a slow start to the industry seemed to back that up. Now it seems that Pennsylvania’s aggressive taxing has been a clear win for the state.”

Penn National, which includes the DraftKings, BetMGM, Barstool, and Hollywood casinos, topped the market with $36.9m in revenue.

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