The analysts at PlayPennsylvania.com have published their take on how the Pennsylvania sports betting market has shaped up in its first year of legal operations. The verdict is for the most part hugely positive for a state that was slow to get off the mark, but has since confounded the views of some high-profile critics of its tax regime.
According to the firm, the industry has gone from having just a single retail sportsbook operating at Hollywood Casino in Grantville, to one that has accepted over $1bn in wagers.
It noted: “Betting handle has increased every month since April, thanks in large part to the start of online betting in PA in late May. As expected, the start of football season meant the amount of dollars bet exploded. Handle jumped from $59m in July to over $109m in August.”
Since the start of the football season, betting handle has grown significantly. In August it stood at $109,038,051, rising to $316,468,264 in November. “The first billion is a landmark for the growing PA sports betting market, but a glance at these numbers show us that the second billion will hit in no time,” said Play Pennsylvania.
“Online betting accounts for more than 80% of the wagering in Pennsylvania. As more apps unfold and the state’s population learns more about legal and regulated sports betting, that number will grow, as will the overall handle.”
It added: “The billion dollars in bets is the focus after a year into wagering in Pennsylvania; however, the revenue sportsbooks are bringing in is nothing to scoff at either. The sportsbooks have netted $75m in profit from betting.”
In terms of the market pecking order, late arrival FanDuel, along with its casino partner Valley Forge Casino, are the dominant force. Between retail and online wagering, they account for over 36% of the marketplace. By comparison, Rivers Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse) was one of the first retail sportsbooks and the first PA online sportsbook and generated almost 21% of bets.
Putting the importance of Pennsylvania betting in real world perspective, the company stated: “Hollywood Casino was the first retail sportsbook to launch in November, but is responsible for only $40m of total wagers. Moreover, the sportsbook has produced just $3.8m in revenue. Nonetheless, because there are more retail sportsbooks than online sites that have been in operation longer, retail did outearn online betting sites with $39m in revenue compared with $35m.
Commentary: PlayPennsylvania’s typically thorough assessment of the state’s first year of legal sports betting pours plenty of cold water on some of the heated criticism it has attracted. Enough to extinguish Chris Christie’s ‘rolling dumpster fire’? Quite possibly. Even though Pennsylvania lags some distance behind the likes of New Jersey, those revenue receipts have gone a long way to prompting its critics to speak in lower tones, if not silence them altogether.