During December, Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks and online casinos were back on a record-breaking course, setting new records while combining to produce revenue of more than $100m.
End of year drive
According to analysts from PlayPennsylvania, which offers news and analysis of the state’s gaming industry, the end-of-year drive boosted the state’s sports betting handle to over $3.5 billion for 2020, a staggering total in a year when four months of major US sports were cancelled and retail outlets were shuttered.
Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks admitted $548.6m in wagers in December after a one-month dip below $500m, as bets rose 11.5 percent from $491.9m in November and topped the record $525.8m record set in October.
In November, taxable operator revenue reached $34.1m, below the record $37.4m, which produced $11.6m in state taxes and $681,191 in local share evaluations.
December’s handle was up 60.1 percent from $342.6m compared to December 2019, while taxable income increased from $11.4m by a whopping 199.4 percent.
Retail and online sportsbooks
Pennsylvania’s retail and online sportsbooks generated $3.6 billion in wagers for all of 2020, up 140.3 percent from $1.5 billion in 2019; $3.3 billion in online wagering, up 208.4 percent from $1.1 billion in 2019; $189.7 million in taxable income, up 125.5 percent from $84.1 million in 2019; and $64.5 million in state taxes.
Crucial silver lining
Dustin Gouker, PlayPennsylvania.com lead analyst, noted: “Online betting, both on sports and online casino games, have been a crucial silver lining to what was overall a rough year for Pennsylvania’s gaming industry.
“Obviously, the growth online has come unfortunately as the retail market has faced pandemic-related shutdowns. But without the increase in online revenue, there is no telling how much weaker a position the entire industry would be in right now.”
Only New Jersey, which broke a US record of more than $6bn in bets in 2020, and Nevada, bettered Pennsylvania. But Illinois, which hit $434.3m in October, the market’s fourth full month of service, is challenging the Keystone State’s grasp on third position.
Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania said: “Pennsylvania and Illinois make for such an interesting comparison, because their markets are so similar, including a nearly identical population.
“Pennsylvania is still the more mature market, though, and is well poised to shatter just about every record it set in 2020.”
97.6 percent, or $548.6m, of all bets were made online in December, which was up from 91 percent in November, with retail sportsbooks shut down for much of the month. With $207.6 m in December, FanDuel Sportsbook/Valley Forge Casino became the first to top $200 m in online wagers in a month, up 17.5 percent from $176.7 m wagered in November.
Those bets produced taxable income of $7.1m, down from $15.1m in November. With $130.9m in bets, DraftKings/The Meadows stayed in second place, up from $109.9m in November. That yielded taxable revenue of $5.4m.
In the market, Penn National continues to make its own dent. The Hollywood Casino license, which includes the Barstool-branded app by Penn National and the newly introduced BetMGM app, increased from $55.7 million to $71.8 million in bets. That generated a market-leading taxable revenue of $13.9m.
Gouker said: “The successful launch of Barstool proves there is still some room for growth in the Pennsylvania market, both in terms of overall market size and in introducing new operators. To that point, the addition of another major player such as BetMGM makes Pennsylvania one of the most competitive markets in the U.S. That should bode well for the year ahead.”
Retail sportsbooks, which were closed on December 12, dropped from $45.1m in December 2019 to $13.4m in bets. On those bets, Sportsbooks won $1.2m, down from $3m in December 2019. With $4.3m in bets, the top retail sportsbook was Parx Casino.
Online casinos and poker rooms
Online casinos and poker rooms, meanwhile, for the first time, hit $70m in monthly sales. In gross operator sales, online casinos and poker took in $71.6m, smashing the previous $59.8m set in November. Over the 31 days of the month, that amounted to $2.3m per day, up from $2m per day over the 30 days of November.
The revenue from December generated $19.3 million in state taxes and another $9.8 million in local share assessments and county grants.
Launched in late 2019, online casino games and poker have been a boon to Pennsylvania, particularly after retail casinos were shuttered in March. With its 12 casinos closed for months, online casinos generated revenue of $680.2m and state taxes of $154.6m for the year.
“The late-2019 launch of online casinos proved to be fortuitous timing,” Cross said. “The revenue lost from casino closures could not have been foreseen and not be completely replaced, but there is no doubt the launch of online gaming helped stem the losses and steady the industry.”