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Sports betting in Pennsylvania slows in April

19 May 2021

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Sports betting in Pennsylvania slowed to its lowest level since September 2020, an expected drop with a sports calendar absent the NFL or a major betting holiday such as the NCAA Tournament, according to PlayPennsylvania, which analyzes and researches the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market. Meanwhile, online casinos and poker continued their yearlong surge.

“Sports betting is following normal seasonal patterns seen in almost every legal jurisdiction, so it might be until September that the state’s sportsbooks begin to challenge the state record books again,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for “With the Olympics and the NBA Playoffs later than usual this year, this will still be a summer that is better than a typical year. And that could be especially so if Sixers make a deep run into July.”

Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $479.4 million in wagers in April, according to official data released Tuesday, snapping a streak of four consecutive months above $500 million in wagers. April’s volume was down 14.4% from $560.3 million in March and the lowest since sportsbooks generated $462.8 million in September. Still, handle was up dramatically over the $46 million in bets taken in April 2020, the first full month sportsbooks were affected by pandemic-related shutdowns and the statistical low.

Sportsbooks won $36 million in gross gaming revenue of April’s wagering, up 1,025.1% from $3.2 million in April 2020 though down 13.9% from $41 million in March. April’s receipts produced $26.3 million in taxable revenue, yielding $8.9 million in state taxes and $525,930 in local share assessment.

Local interest in the playoff runs of the Philadelphia 76ers and Pittsburgh Penguins, coupled with the start of the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates seasons, actually helped shallow the seasonal lull for Pennsylvania. Colorado (-18%), Indiana (-25.4%), Iowa (-26.7%), and Michigan (-30.5%) all experienced more dramatic month-over-month declines in April, while New Jersey (-13%) and Tennessee (-13.6%) were slightly better.

“Local teams performing well, such as the Sixers and Penguins, are always a powerful incentive for bettors in any state,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for “In the case of Pennsylvania, it was a key difference between meeting expectations and falling short in April.”

Online sports betting accounted for $439.1 million of April’s handle, or 91.6%, down from 91.8% in March. FanDuel/Valley Forge led online operators again with $167.6 million in online wagering, down from $202.8 million in March. Those bets led to $13.75 million in gross revenue, up slightly from $13.72 million in March, and $11.1 million in taxable revenue. DraftKings/The Meadows was a distant second with $105.7 million in bets, down from $116.6 million in February. That action created $6.4 million in gross revenue, down from $7.7 million in March, and $5.4 million in taxable revenue.

Handle from the Barstool-branded Penn National/Hollywood Casino app fell to $57.2 million in April, down from $65.2 million in March and the third consecutive monthly decline. Those bets yielded $2.6 million in gross revenue, down from $6.2 million in March.

The online leaders were followed by:

- BetMGM/Hollywood Morgantown ($33 million handle, down from $37.4 million; $2.5 million in gross revenue, down from $3.1 million)
- BetRivers/Rivers-Pittsburgh ($18.8 million handle, down from $24.8 million; $1.8 million revenue, down from $2.3 million)
- FOX Bet/Mount Airy ($15.2 million handle, down from $17.5 million; $1.1 million revenue, down from $1.3 million)
- Parx Casino ($14.2 million handle, down from $18.7 million; $1.7 million revenue, up from $1.4 million)
- PlaySugarHouse/Rivers Casino Philadelphia ($13.4 million handle, down from $17.2 million; $995,423 in revenue, down from $1.1 million)
- Unibet/Mohegan Sun Pocono ($7.2 million handle, down from $10.2 million; $436,595 revenue, down from $620,357)
- Betfred/Wind Creek Bethlehem ($2.7 million handle, up from $2.2 million; $49,074 revenue, down from $152,563)
- Caesars/Harrah’s ($2.1 million handle, down from $1.7 million; -$75,375 revenue, down from $144,858)
- TwinSpires/Presque Isle ($2.1 million handle, down from $1.4 million; $33,622 revenue, down from $436,828)

Meanwhile, as restrictions on brick-and-mortar casinos loosened, including the return of drink service on 4 April, retail sportsbooks generated $40.3 million in handle in April. That was down from $45.9 million in March. April’s action produced $4.8 million in gross revenue, while Rivers-Philadelphia topped the retail market with $7.7 million in bets, just ahead of Parx Casino’s $5.3 million.

The entirety of the state’s gross gaming revenue — including online and retail sports betting and online and retail casinos — reached $404.1 million in April, the second consecutive month of total gaming revenue surpassed $400 million.

“Retail betting, whether casino games or sports betting, continues to inch toward normal, while the gains in online revenues made over the last year continue to hold,” Cross said. “That has created an overall gaming market that easily surpasses pre-pandemic level, even if retail betting is not quite where it was.”

Online casinos and poker

With $105.5 million in gross revenue and $92.7 million in taxable revenue in April, Pennsylvania’s online and retail sports showed more dramatic year-over-year growth. Taxable was up 115.2% from $43.1 million in April 2020 even as it fell short of the record $97.7 million set in March.

Online casino wagering hit $3.2 billion in April, up 128.6% from $1.4 billion in April 2020. And with new operators coming online, including BetMGM/Hollywood Casino earlier this year and late-April’s online launch of Borgata/Rivers Philadelphia, that growth shows few signs of stopping.

“Online casinos continue to thrive, even as retail casinos operate under few restraints and competition among online operators heats up,” Cross said. “New operators joining the mix shows there is still a belief that the online casino market in Pennsylvania has not yet reached its peak.”

Other highlights from April:

- April’s revenue produced $25.5 million in state taxes and another $13.1 million in local share assessments and county grants.
- Online casino and poker rooms generated $3.1 million per day in taxable revenue over the 30 days of April, down from the record of $3.2 million per day set in March.
- Penn National, which includes the DraftKings, BetMGM, and Hollywood casinos, topped the market with $36 million in revenue on $1.2 billion in wagers. Rivers-Philadelphia, which includes PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers casinos, was second with $26.6 million in revenue on $846.7 million in wagers.
- Revenue at Mount Airy/PokerStars, which was the lone online poker operator in the state, hit $2.3 million. While newly launched online poker rooms BetMGM, under the Hollywood Casino Grantville license, and Borgata, under the Rivers Philadelphia license, combined to generate $27,071 in the two days each operated in April.
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