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Pennsylvania sportsbooks gain steam in August

20 Sep 2021

(PRESS RELEASE) -- The return of football helped Pennsylvania sportsbooks post their first month-over-month increase in betting volume since March with nearly $350 million in wagers in August. The gain sets the stage for what could be a record-shattering fall for the state’s sportsbooks as online casinos and poker rooms continue their own torrid pace, according to PlayPennsylvania, which tracks regulated online gaming and sports betting in the state.

“August’s sports schedule is still relatively light compared with the fall, so it is welcome to see betting volume move off the low we saw in July,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “The next four months is the most important stretch of the year for sportsbooks, though, and every sign points toward a stretch of widespread growth.”

Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $348.5 million in wagers in August, down 4.5% from $365.0 million in August 2020 but up 14.5% from $304.4 million in July, according to official data released Monday. August marked the first month since March, when sportsbooks took in $560.3 million in wagers, that the combined handle topped the previous month’s handle.

Gross gaming revenue fell 8.3% to $25.3 million from $27.6 million in August 2020 and fell 7.9% from $27.5 million in July. August produced $18.0 million in taxable revenue, generating $6.1 million in state taxes and $360,145 in local share assessments.

The gains in August were likely in part a product of increasing interest in baseball, especially as the Philadelphia Phillies remained in postseason contention. But a handful of college and NFL preseason games, in addition to futures betting on football, undoubtedly helped boost bettors’ interest.

“An inglorious exit from the NBA playoffs, the struggles of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the inconsistency of the Phillies, conspired to make this a relatively slow summer for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayPennsylvania.com. “It took just a handful of games in August to show how important football is to the sports-betting industry.”

Bettors made $318.1 million in wagers at the state’s online sportsbooks, representing 91.3% of the state’s total handle. FanDuel led all online operators with $135.7 million in wagering, up 27.1% from $106.7 million in July. FanDuel’s online revenue fell 54% to $5.7 million in August from $12.3 million in July, yielding $3.0 million in taxable revenue.

DraftKings was second in the state with $80.4 million in wagers, up 21.4% from $66.2 million in July. That yielded $8.0 million in gross revenue and $6.6 million in taxable revenue. BetMGM was third in the state with $29.0 million in wagers and $2.5 million in gross revenue.

Penn National’s Barstool-branded app attracted $26.3 million in wagers creating $2.1 million in gross revenue and $1.6 million in taxable revenue.

The online leaders were followed by:
  • BetRivers ($13.2 million handle, down from $14.5 million; $882,274 GGR, down from $1.3 million)
  • SugarHouse ($10.3 million handle, up from $9 million; $692,350 in GGR, up from $680,099)
  • Fox Bet ($8.6 million handle, down from $10 million; $746,103 in GGR, up from $709,376)
  • Parx Casino ($6.4 million handle, down from $7.9 million; $713,282 GGR, down from $745,087)
  • Unibet ($4.2 million handle, down from $4.5 million; $307,601 GGR, down from $316,936)
  • TwinSpires ($2.3 million handle, up from $2.1 million; $147,448 GGR, down from $179,276)
  • Caesars ($1.2 million handle, up from $947,532; $73,785 GGR, up from -$126,967)
  • Betway ($617,954 handle; up from $563,481; $18,818 GGR, up from -$32,239)
  • Wind Creek ($521,601 handle, up/down from $406,259; $78,195 GGR, up from $6,284)
Meanwhile, retail sportsbooks accepted $30.4 million in wagers in August, up from $29.0 million in July. Those wagers created $3.3 million in gross gaming revenue, up 22.8% from $2.7 million in July. Rivers Philadelphia topped the retail market with $5.1 million in bets, ahead of Rivers Pittsburgh’s $4.4 million handle.

“Revenue generation is important this time of year, too, but football is often a springboard for operators to build relationships with new customers,” Gouker said. “This is why operators are aggressive with their football-related promotional offerings and advertising campaigns, particularly around the opening weeks of the season. It’s also a time when giants such as FanDuel and DraftKings really can exploit their resource advantage over smaller operators.”

Online casinos and poker

Online casinos and poker rooms posted their sixth consecutive month with gross gaming revenue over $100 million with $103.2 million in August. That was up 54.8% from $66.7 million in August 2020, though down 1.2% from $104.5 million in July.

Gross revenue was whittled to $88.7 million in taxable revenue, which was even with July. August’s win yielded $39.4 million in state and local taxes. Wagering at online casino games remained brisk, hitting $3.2 billion in August, which was also even with July.

“While sportsbooks ebb and flow with the seasons, the growth at online casinos has been consistent and relentless,” Cross said. “As the weather cools, that growth should continue. There are no signs yet that point to any kind of slowdown on the immediate horizon.”

Other highlights from August:

- Online casino and poker rooms generated $3.3 million in gross gaming revenue per day over the 31 days of August, down from $3.4 million per day in July.

- Penn National, which includes the DraftKings, BetMGM, Barstool, and Hollywood casinos, led the market once again with $35.1 million in gross revenue. Rivers Philadelphia, which includes SugarHouse, Borgata, and BetRivers casinos, was second with $30.8 million.

- On the strength of the first full month of the World Series of Poker, poker generated $3.2 million in revenue, up from $2.7 million in August 2020. Mount Airy/PokerStars topped operators with $1.9 million in revenue.
 
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