PA Gaming Review: Revenue Heats Up in July, Virus Slows Track at Parx, Penn State Season Axed

Written By Kevin Shelly on August 20, 2020
Penn State football canceled, PA gaming revenue up in July

On the upside, sports betting revenue has rebounded in Pennsylvania with a return of major sports, just as everyone was learning to love tolerate table tennis.

And PA online casinos continued growing in July.

In horse racing news, Parx had a scare last week with three workers, including a jockey, testing positive for COVID-19. Positive tests at a track in Virginia ended a meet. And an annual report shows racing’s long revenue slide continued in 2019 in PA, as elsewhere.

And another bummer, but predictable given liability and the virus: Penn State has canceled its football season, though there is some home for a spring season.

PA sportsbooks had a big July, relatively speaking

With sportsbooks back in fuller action, the betting handle in PA for July was $165 million. That’s a staggering 84% increase from $89 million in June.

Revenue rose to $8.1 million, a small increase from the previous month but a notable jump from $4.8 million in May.

While all 12 casinos are now open, nearly all of July’s wagers (94%) were placed online.

FanDuel online sportsbook led all operators with a handle of about $70 million. But DraftKings taxable revenue was $1.9 million to FanDuel’s $1.4 million.

PA online poker and casino revenue had a good July

Combined online casino and poker revenue in July totaled $54.4 million according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It nearly broke the all-time high of $55.8 million in May.

Casinos are back open at 50% capacity but players are still busy with online platforms.

Slot and table games produced $51.4 million in revenue, with $23 million going to state and local taxes. In July, nearly $3 million in online gambling revenue came from online poker.

It was the third consecutive month total wagers for online slots went over $1 billion.

Unhappy Valley for Penn State

Last Tuesday, the Big Ten conference canceled all fall sports seasons, ending any hope for Penn State games in Happy Valley’s Beaver Stadium this fall.

But the Big Ten is still evaluating options for its canceled fall sports. One of those options is playing the games during the second semester, which would include parts of both winter and spring.

That could mean an unprecedented spring football season.

Virus scare at Parx Racing

A rider at Parx Casino’s horse racing track with lifetime total purse winnings of more than $14.1 million, tested positive for coronavirus.

Jockey Anthony Salgado‘s positive result came just after he ran in five races on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at the thoroughbred track in Bucks County, just outside Philadelphia. Two additional infections were found in backside workers who deal directly with horses.

Training stopped for two days but had resumed as of Saturday, and racing resumed Monday and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, an annual report showed the taxable handle generated by Pennsylvania’s six race tracks dropped by more than 10.7% in 2019 to around $300 million, a decrease of more than $36.1 million from the previous year.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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