Pennsylvania’s online and retail sportsbooks took advantage of a perfect storm of major U.S. sports in September to easily generate a record $462.8 million in bets. By doing so, Pennsylvania entered an exclusive club of gaming markets, joining New Jersey and Nevada, that have surpassed $450 million in wagers in a single month, according to PlayPennsylvania.
“With the beginning of the NFL season, a full schedule of baseball, and the NBA and NHL playoffs, there may never be such a confluence of sporting events again,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Like New Jersey, Pennsylvania has created a well-rounded market that can drive significant action on every major sport. That market dynamic was able to bear fruit in September in a way that may never be fully possible again.”
September’s handle, which was released Friday, was up 137.9% from $194.5 million in September 2019 and easily surpassed the previous record of $365 million set just last month. But the record wagers produced just $6.3 million in taxable revenue, down from $18.3 million in August and $14.9 million in September 2019, a result of heavy promotion and some unlucky results for sportsbooks. September revenue yielded $2.1 million in state taxes and another $125,398 in local share assessments.
“The question now becomes whether Pennsylvania can sustain this level once the sports calendar returns to normal,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Pennsylvania has etched a place in the top tier of gaming markets and could possibly pass Nevada as the nation’s No. 2 market before the end of the year.”
Online wagering accounted for 89.5%, or $414.1 million, of September’s handle. FanDuel Sportsbook/Valley Forge Casino extended its online supremacy with $168 million in online bets, up 16.2% from $144.6 million wagered in August. Those bets produced $2.4 million in taxable revenue. Also, Penn National’s Barstool Sports-branded sportsbook on Hollywood Casino’s license generated $29.9 million in bets, losing $2.8 million on those bets, in just two weeks of operation.
“Barstool adds a brand name with a uniquely loyal following, and its launch comes with high hopes,” Gouker said. “On the surface it seems like it has the potential to eat into the dominant market shares of FanDuel and DraftKings. But that is no easy task considering how entrenched both have become in the Pennsylvania market.”
In-person betting reached $48.7 million in September bets, winning $5.1 million on those bets. Rivers-Philadelphia claimed the top retail spot with $11.4 million in bets and gross revenue of $1.2 million.
Online casino games and poker continued their hot streak in September, combining to produce a record $57 million in gross operator revenue, or $1.9 million per day over the 30 days of September. That is up from August, when online gambling generated $55.9 million, or $1.8 million per day for the 31 days of August.
September’s revenue yielded $16 million in state taxes and another $3.8 million in local share assessments.
“Pennsylvania’s online casinos generate nearly five times as much in bets as sports betting, and revenue doesn’t fluctuate nearly as much,” Cross said. “That has quickly made online gambling a dependable and significant tax revenue driver for the state, accomplishing the main goal of regulation.”
Rivers-Philadelphia’s brands topped online casinos with $16.1 million in revenue on $578.8 million in wagers.
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