The current downturn in US sports betting activity has been felt by sportsbooks in Pennsylvania during April, slowing to its lowest level since September 2020. The drop comes as little surprise with a sports calendar lacking NFL action or a major betting holiday such as the NCAA Tournament, according to PlayPennsylvania.
For the state’s online casinos and poker, however, it was business as usual as they continued their year-long surge.
Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $479.4m in wagers in April, halting a streak of four consecutive months above $500m in wagers. April’s volume was down 14.4% from $560.3m in March and the lowest since sportsbooks generated $462.8m in September.
That said, handle was up dramatically over the $46m in bets taken in April 2020, the first full month sportsbooks were affected by pandemic-related shutdowns and the statistical low.
Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com, explained: “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.
“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.”
Sportsbooks won $36m in gross gaming revenue of April’s wagering, up 1,025.1% from $3.2m in April 2020 though down 13.9% from $41m in March. April’s receipts produced $26.3m in taxable revenue, yielding $8.9m 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.
Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com, added: “Local teams performing well, such as the Sixers and Penguins, are always a powerful incentive for bettors in any state. In the case of Pennsylvania, it was a key difference between meeting expectations and falling short in April.”
Online sports betting accounted for $439.1m of April’s handle, or 91.6%, down from 91.8% in March. FanDuel/Valley Forge led online operators again with $167.6m in online wagering, down from $202.8m in March. Those bets led to $13.75m in gross revenue, up slightly from $13.72m in March, and $11.1m in taxable revenue.
DraftKings/The Meadows was a distant second with $105.7m in bets, down from $116.6m in February. That action created $6.4m in gross revenue, down from $7.7m in March, and $5.4m in taxable revenue.
Handle from the Barstool-branded Penn National/Hollywood Casino app fell to $57.2m in April, down from $65.2m in March and the third consecutive monthly decline. Those bets yielded $2.6m in gross revenue, down from $6.2m in March.
Meanwhile, as restrictions on brick-and-mortar casinos loosened, including the return of drink service on April 4, retail sportsbooks generated $40.3m in handle in April. That was down from $45.9m in March. April’s action produced $4.8m in gross revenue, while Rivers-Philadelphia topped the retail market with $7.7m in bets, just ahead of Parx Casino’s $5.3m.
The entirety of the state’s gross gaming revenue — including online and retail sports betting and online and retail casinos — reached $404.1m in April, the second consecutive month of total gaming revenue surpassed $400m.
“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.”
With $105.5m in gross revenue and $92.7m in taxable revenue in April, Pennsylvania’s online and retail sports showed more dramatic year-over-year growth. Taxable was up 115.2% from $43.1m in April 2020 even as it fell short of the record $97.7m set in March.
Online casino wagering hit $3.2bn in April, up 128.6% from $1.4bn 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.”