August generates record $365m handle for Pennsylvania sportsbooks

Pennsylvania sportsbooks enjoyed their best month since the state took sports betting legal in November 2018, with the return of major sports helping the state to a record $365m handle in August.

The resurgence in form was sufficiently strong, said PlayPennsylvania, to see the state surpass Nevada for the first time, making it the second-largest legal sports betting market in the country, at least for one month.

Retail and online sportsbooks generated $364.99m in wagers in August, up 121.5% from $164.8m in July. August’s handle represents year-on-year growth of 234.7% from August 2019, when Pennsylvania sportsbooks managed to attract $109m in bets.

The growth in revenue was impressive, too. August’s handle produced $18.3m in taxable revenue, up 124.3% from $8.1m in July and up 198.8% from $6.1m in August 2019. August’s revenue produced $6.2m in state taxes and another $365,482 in local share assessments.

“In what has been a difficult year, August’s packed schedule of major sports helped Pennsylvania sportsbooks make up some of what was lost from pandemic-related shutdowns,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com.

He added: “It is remarkable to think that Pennsylvania could surpass Nevada, the nation’s most mature sports-betting market. The state’s online products have helped bridge a gap that at one point looked nearly insurmountable.”

Pennsylvania had fallen just shy of Nevada’s $165.6m handle in July, and its record-breaking August could top the Silver State which will announce August data later this month.

The Keystone State, like New Jersey, which generated an all-jurisdiction record of $668m in bets in August, has some advantages over Nevada, including a much larger local population, a market that is not as event-driven, and more robust online product offerings that have been increasingly popular during the pandemic.

“The continuing build-up of online and mobile sports betting, in addition to online casinos and poker rooms, is paying enormous dividends,” Gouker added. “Some gamblers appear to still be reluctant to visit casinos in person, and technology is bridging that gap.”

Online wagering accounted for 88.1%, or $321.6m, of all bets in August. FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino was again the primary driver by accepting $144.6m in online bets, a 110.3% gain from $68.8m wagered in July. Those bets produced $8.9m in taxable revenue, up 518.6% from $1.4m in July.

FanDuel was followed by DraftKings at The Meadows which generated $86.9m handle, up from $39.1m and $1.2m in taxable revenue, down from $1.8m.

The retail sector gained traction in August, too, taking in $43.4m in in-person bets, up from $9.4m in July. Retail sportsbooks won $2.8m on those bets, ahead by $1.3m in July. The race for the top retail spot was claimed by Rivers-Philadelphia, which took in $11.8m in bets and topped gross revenue with $949,903. Parx Casino attracted $6.6m in wagers to edge Rivers-Pittsburgh’s $6.4m handle.

According to Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com, the online market could get another boost. Not only has the NFL and college football kicked off, she explained, but Penn National has launched its much-awaited Barstool Sportsbook App.

“Barstool is the most intriguing launch since FanDuel and DraftKings entered the market, and could really move the needle,” she said. “It’s difficult to capitalize on such a busy sports schedule if bettors are limited in their online choices. The state’s gaming industry still has significant challenges, but its ability to entice so many online competitors has made the Pennsylvania market far more resilient.”

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