Pennsylvania has joined a growing list of states that saw sportsbook handle down on where it typically should be in May as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. While retail and online sportsbooks actually saw an improved performance in May, they still lost out on circa $275m in potential bets, according to PlayPennsylvania estimates.
In the absence of regular sporting options, gamblers again turned to online casinos and poker rooms in record numbers. And with land-based casinos reopening in June and major sports slowly returning, the Keystone State is expected to enter its recovery phase.
“May was another challenging month for Pennsylvania’s gaming industry, but it appears that it will be the last month of online casinos and poker rooms being the only bearer of good news,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com.
He added: “The casinos that have recently reopened appear to be experiencing relatively strong traffic, and sports bettors are finding increasingly more to bet on. Recovery for the entire industry will be a long road, but there are reasons for optimism.”
Pennsylvania sportsbooks would have expected to accept more than $350m in a typical May. Instead, online sportsbooks generated $77.5m in wagers, up 68.4% from April’s $46m handle. This during another month that again featured no retail sports betting, which would have generated nearly $40m in a typical May.
A look back to last year shows that in-person sports bets produced $35.9m in the corresponding month, before online sports betting launched.
May’s handle yielded $4.8m in gross revenue, up from $3.2m in April, and $1.6m in state taxes.
With NASCAR and some European soccer reopening in May, bettors had more to bet on, which helped drive interest. Boxing and the PGA Tour recently restarted, too. And the MLS and the NBA appear ready to begin in July.
“A normal menu of sports would likely mean an almost instant recovery for online sportsbooks, though we may still be a few months from that happening,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks have been savvy in keeping their customers engaged with sports well outside the mainstream. That will only help when things begin to return to normal.”
FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino once again topped the market with a May handle of $29.6m, up from $19m in April. Those bets fueled $2.5m in taxable revenue, up from $1.3m.