Sportsbooks in Pennsylvania experienced a small spike in May, but it served as little consolation considering what could have been a monster month. Coronavirus destroyed a strong spring sports calendar, leaving slim pickings for sports bettors.
Handle for May was $77.5 million, a 68% increase from last month. Revenue also increased from last month ($2.8 million) to $4.8 million, according to numbers released on Tuesday from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Casinos in PA have been closed since mid-March, but three opened last week. As a result of brick-and-mortar casinos being shuttered, all wagers in May were placed online.
Despite the coronavirus-caused upheaval, FanDuel sportsbook remained the top operator for handle ($29.6 million) and revenue ($2.5 million).
Massive miss for sportsbooks
Despite the continued absence of mainstream sports, the books got a small boost from NASCAR, PGA, UFC and Bundesliga.
However, the betting interest pales in comparison to what could have been the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs and early-season MLB action.
Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com, estimates that Pennsylvania sports betting operators missed out on a combined $275 million in potential bets in May.
During a recent American Gaming Association webinar, Casey Clark, SVP of strategic communications, said:
“The past few months should have been record-breaking for legal sports betting in America.”
The pain isn’t limited to Pennsylvania. In May 2019, New Jersey sports betting produced $318.9 million in handle and $15.5 million in revenue. This May, handle was $117.8 million. However, like PA, it represented a significant increase from last month’s dismal performance (115%).
PA sports betting handle, revenue by operator in May 2020
|Casino or Off-Track Betting Facility||Total Handle||Total Revenue||Online Handle||Online Revenue||Retail Handle||Retail Revenue|
|FanDuel/Valley Forge Casino||$29.6 million||$2.5 million||$29.6 million||$2.5 million||0||($245)|
|DraftKings/The Meadows||$21.8 million||$909,000||$12.6 million||$700,000||0||0|
|SugarHouse/Rivers Philadelphia||$8.5 million||$458,000||$8.5 million||$458,000||0||0|
|FOX Bet/Mount Airy||$7.8 million||$352,000||$7.8 million||$352,000||0||($70)|
|Rivers Pittsburgh||$4.9 million||$273,000||$4.9 million||$275,000||0||($2,400)|
|Parx||$3.8 million||$279,000||$3.8 million||$279,000||0||0|
|Presque Isle Downs||$266,000||$6,000||$266,000||$6,000||0||0|
|Unibet/Mohegan Sun Pocono||$714,000||$44,000||$714,000||$44,000||0||0|
|South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Oaks Race and Sportsbook||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Mohegan (The Downs at Lehigh Valley)||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Statewide Total||$77.5 million||$4.8 million||$77.5 million||$4.8 million||0||($2,500)|
FanDuel and DraftKings rule PA
FanDuel accounted for 38% of all wagers placed. It was smaller slice than previous months, where it had half. DraftKings (The Meadows) continues to establish its reign in PA with $21.7 million in handle and $908,635 in revenue, both month-over-month increases.
May 2020 marks one year since the first online sportsbook launched in Pennsylvania (PlaySugarHouse). The lone sportsbook took $573,163 in bets in just a few days. One year later, Pennsylvania has nine online sportsbooks.
The rest of PA online sportsbooks in May:
- Rivers Casino Philadelphia: $8.5 million in handle, $457,952 revenue
- Fox Bet (Mount Airy): $7.7 million in handle (up from $3.7 million), $351,944 revenue
- Rivers Casino Pittsburgh: $4.8 million in handle (up from $2.4 million), $275,342 revenue
- Parx online sportsbook: $3.8 million in handle, $278,850 revenue
- Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono): $714,400 in handle, $43,912 revenue
- Bet America (Presque Isle Downs): $265,938 in handle, $6,036 revenue
- Caesars sportsbook (Harrah’s): $143,991 in handle, $1,545 revenue
2020 PA sports betting handle, revenue and taxes
Here’s a look at top-line numbers for PA sports betting since the start of 2020.
|January 2020||February 2020||March 2020||April 2020||May 2020|
Fantasy contests in May sink to an all-time low
Even fantasy contests can’t escape coronavirus’s clutches. After an all-time low April with $162,252 in revenue, things weren’t much better in May. Revenue was $318,840, a 82% percent decrease from last May.
DraftKings ($231,199) and FanDuel ($86,176) earned all (save for 0.5%) of the revenue of PA’s nine fantasy operators.
PA sports betting: Big things brewing?
Unlike last month when the numbers were released, operators have a bit more clarity on when major sports will return.
- NBA: Season suspended March 11. Expected to resume in late July/early August.
- NHL: Season suspended March 12. Expected to resume in late July/early August.
- MLB: Spring Training stopped March 12. Players and owners remain at an impasse. On June 15, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he’s “not confident” there will be a season.
- NFL: The season is expected to start with a preseason game Aug. 6 and unfold as scheduled.
Whether or not the NBA and NHL (or any sport) return depends on player safety and if the leagues feel they have a handle on coronavirus. The same can be said of college football and the NFL starting their respective seasons as planned.
Novel viruses are unpredictable, and things can change in a moment. Just yesterday, a few Cowboys and Texans players tested positive.
One NFL head coach described as “scary” that #Cowboys and #Texans players – including Ezekiel Elliott – tested positive for Coronavirus. Another HC told me league needs to delay start of the season. A third coach questioned wisdom of playing during a pandemic.
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) June 15, 2020
If the NFL and college football start their season as planned, it will coincide with the NBA and NHL playoffs, setting the stage for a confluence of events never seen before. The days of slim pickings for sports bettors will be replaced by a smorgasbord of choices. And sports betting revenue will return to pre-pandemic highs.