Pennsylvania Sports Betting In May: Still Down But Recovery In Sight

Posted on June 16, 2020 - Last Updated on June 15, 2020

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 FacilityTotal HandleTotal RevenueOnline HandleOnline RevenueRetail HandleRetail Revenue
FanDuel/Valley Forge Casino$29.6 million$2.5 million$29.6 million$2.5 million0($245)
DraftKings/The Meadows$21.8 million$909,000$12.6 million$700,00000
SugarHouse/Rivers Philadelphia$8.5 million$458,000$8.5 million$458,0000
0
FOX Bet/Mount Airy$7.8 million$352,000$7.8 million$352,0000($70)
Rivers Pittsburgh$4.9 million$273,000$4.9 million$275,0000($2,400)
Parx $3.8 million$279,000$3.8 million$279,00000
Presque Isle Downs$266,000$6,000$266,000$6,00000
Unibet/Mohegan Sun Pocono$714,000$44,000$714,000$44,00000
Harrah’s Philadelphia$144,000$1,500$144,000$1,50000
South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook000000
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course000000
Oaks Race and Sportsbook000000
Mohegan (The Downs at Lehigh Valley)000000
Statewide Total$77.5 million$4.8 million$77.5 million$4.8 million0($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 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020
Total Handle $348,381,708$329,765,782$131,330,059$46,015,988$77,510,033$89,002,562$164,782,229
Gross Revenue $22,841,192 $4,722,252$6,889,255$2,883,471$4,828,989$6,663,433 $8,147,480
Taxes (36%)$8,222,829$1,700,011$2,480,132$1,038,048$1,738,436$2,398,836$2,933,093

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.

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.

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Katie Kohler Avatar
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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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