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US – Pennsylvania’s sportsbetting hits $2bn in February before suspension of sports

By - 19 March 2020

A busy February pushed Pennsylvania’s retail and online sportsbooks past $2bn in wagers since the industry was launched. But with every major US sport suspended indefinitely, the immediate future for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks and online casinos is far less certain.

“The next few months are impossible to predict until we get a better handle on how long the coronavirus will affect, not just sports and the gaming industry, but all of daily life,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “The immediate outlook of sportsbooks is secondary right now. But there is little doubt that the industry will be affected significantly, at least in the short-term.”

Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks produced $329.8m in wagers, just short of the $348.4m record set in January, according to official data released Wednesday. Pennsylvania has now collected $2.1bn in online and retail wagers since the state’s industry was born in January 2019. By doing so, the Keystone State joined Nevada and New Jersey as the only states to have crossed the $2bn threshold.

February’s handle produced $4.7m in gross revenue, down from January’s record $31.6m. Sportsbooks rebounded from a $3.3m loss on the Super Bowl, which generated $30.7m in bets. The revenue resulted in a $1.6 million injection into state coffers. Online betting produced $294.1m, or 89.2 per cent, of the state’s February handle. The online handle generated $4.7m in gross revenue, providing all of the state’s taxable revenue.

That revenue will be difficult to replace over the next few weeks.

“Revenue from online casinos should help fill in the gaps, at least in part, while sportsbooks and land-based casinos feel the impact from COVID-19,” Mr. Gouker said. “In New Jersey, online casino revenue already tops $50 million per month, and revenue could really leap forward in Pennsylvania, too. But it will be impossible to completely replace all the revenue lost from the sports world going dark.”

FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino dominated the online market with $138.5 million in February bets, down from $153.1 million in January. That yielded $146,080 in taxable revenue.

Rivers-Philadelphia’s $7.2m handle, down from $7.4m in January, led the retail market. That yielded $383,793 in revenue, down from $1.1.

“After a slow start, Pennsylvania sportsbooks have continually matured into the market that we all thought it would be when the state first legalised sports betting,” Mr. Gouker said. “The state has only begun to scratch the surface of its potential. In fact, Pennsylvania was on track to reach $4 billion in lifetime handle by the beginning of the NFL season. But it would take a quick recovery from the coronavirus outbreak to reach that milestone now.”

Pennsylvania’s online casinos and poker rooms generated a record $19.5 million in February gross revenue, up from $14 million in January. Casinos and poker generated $672,097 per day in the 29 days of February. February yielded $4.7 million in tax revenue for the state, and online casino games attracted $547.6 million in bets.

“Online casinos have dealt with headwinds that have been more forceful than anything that New Jersey operators have had to face,” Gouker said. “These are mostly just growing pains, and it is a near-certainty that online casinos will take off.”

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