NCAA Tournament Spurs March Bounce Back For PA Sports Betting As Revenue Jumps 79%

Posted By Katie Kohler on April 15, 2021

It was madness at Pennsylvania sportsbooks in March with handle surpassing a half a billion again.

In March, PA sportsbooks took $560.3 million in bets and earned about $29.3 million in revenue. Compared to last month, handle increased 10% and revenue rose nearly 79%. Of all wagers in March, 91% were placed online, as has become the norm.

Pennsylvania sports betting handle eclipsed the $500 million-mark in five of the last six months according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It came just shy ($491.9 million) in November 2020.

March moved the fiscal year total handle to over $4 billion and pushed total fiscal year revenue to $220.6 million. The state’s tax take for March was about $10 million with an additional $587K going to local entities.

FanDuel Sportsbook broke a Pennsylvania record of its own, surpassing the $200 million mark for handle in a single month with $202.8 million. That led all operators in handle and revenue. FanDuel, through its partnership with Valley Forge Casino, took about 40% of all online wagers in March.

NCAA Tournament fuels PA sports betting March

A handle decrease in February is common at sportsbooks. It’s a shorter month, there is no college football, and only one NFL game (yes, it’s the Super Bowl). Sports betting apps delivered an expected bounce back in March thanks to the return of the NCAA Tournament.

Just how big was March Madness for sportbooks? Pennsylvania doesn’t break down handle by sports. However, here is some telling insight.

Baylor vs. Gonzaga was the largest non-football event ever, overall and in New Jersey, at DraftKings. Also, it was the tenth largest event on the book of all time, just behind the 2021 CFB National Championship.

Most bet NCAA Tournament games at DraftKings by handle in Pennsylvania:

  • April 5: Baylor vs. Gonzaga
  • April 3: UCLA vs. Gonzaga
  • March 27: Villanova vs. Baylor
  • March 28: UCLA vs. Alabama
  • March 30: UCLA vs. Michigan

A rep from BetRivers and PlaySugarhouse said the National Championship was the most bet-game of the tournament and the entire 2020-2021 college basketball season.

PA sports betting handle, revenue, taxes on the rise

Here is a look at fiscal year breakdown of the handle, revenue and taxes for sports betting in Pennsylvania.

Fiscal year 2018/2019

  • Handle: $244.6 million
  • Gross Revenue: $3.1 million
  • State tax (34%): $699,319
  • Local share (2%): $41,136

Fiscal year 2019/2020

  • Handle: $2.5 billion
  • Gross Revenue: $135.5 million
  • State tax: $38.6 million
  • Local share: $2.3 million

Fiscal year 2020/2021 (July to present)

  • Handle: $4.2 billion
  • Gross Revenue: $220.6 million
  • State tax: $75 million
  • Local share: $4.4 million

Where do PA sports betting taxes go?

Pennsylvania levies the highest tax on sports betting revenue at 36%.

The money collected from taxes from sports betting goes into the general fund; 34% is a state tax and 2% is a local share assessment.

Pennsylvania’s total tax dollars collected since the start of sports betting in the state is now nearly $128.2 million.

Illinois surpasses PA…for now

In February 2020, Pennsylvania sportsbooks reported a then-record $348.4 million in handle followed by a $131.3 million handle in March 2020. A 326% YoY increase might seem like a cause for celebration, but it should be taken with a big grain of salt. Last March was a bleak one for sportsbook as the NCAA Tournament and the rest of major sports were shut down due the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illinois’ February numbers showed $509.8 million in handle. It knocked Pennsylvania out of the No. 3 spot for highest handle in states where sports betting is legal. However, it’s expected to be short-lived since Illinois will return to in-person registration for sports betting.

In February, New Jersey held the top spot for handle ($743 million) followed by Nevada ($554.1 million). March sports betting figures are expected to be released soon for New Jersey and Nevada.

In March in Pennsylvania, out of all 12 sportsbook operators, DraftKings came in second (again) with $116.6 million in handle and $6 million for revenue. Both figures represent month-over-month increases for DraftKings.

In its third full month, BetMGM Sportsbook, through its partnership with Hollywood Casino Morgantown, took $37.4 million in bets, a nice increase from $33.7 million in Feb. BetMGM’s revenue increased from $199K to $1.7 million.

The Super Bowl caused sportsboooks to be very generous in February, handing out $16.9 million in promo credits. In March, they gave away $11.7 million.

Tracking Barstool’s progress in Pennsylvania

Barstool Sportsbook‘s handle dropped from $65.6 million to $63.6 million in March. However, revenue went from the “red” last month (-726K) to $3.3 million. Revenue in the red for Barstool in February was largely due to the $5.8 million in promo credits they gave out.

The Dow Jones Indices added $PENN (and Caesars) into the S&P 500 Mid-Cap index on March 22. Penn was previously in the S&P 400 Mid-Cap index.

PA sports betting handle & revenue by operator in March 2021

Sports Betting OperatorTotal HandleTotal RevenueOnline HandleOnline RevenueRetail HandleRetail Revenue
Valley Forge Casino (FanDuel)$205,899,777 $9,911,912 $202,847,022 $10,420,429 $3,052,755 ($508,516)
The Meadows Casino (DraftKings)$118,410,130 $6,285,794 $116,625,652 $6,033,392 $1,784,477 $252,402
Hollywood/Penn National (Barstool)$65,222,833 $3,695,285 $63,569,874 $3,346,796 $1,652,959 $348,489
Hollywood Morgantown (BetMGM)$37,407,928 $1,662,839 $37,407,928 $1,662,839 $0$0
Rivers Pittsburgh (BetRivers)$30,715,718 $2,091,476 $24,842,380 $1,291,863 $5,873,338 $799,613
Parx Casino$25,564,200 $1,822,992 $18,694,197 $1,195,159 $6,870,003 $627,834
Rivers Philadelphia (PlaySugarHouse)$24,202,475 $1,473,438 $17,174,628 $912,183 $7,027,847 $561,255
Mount Airy Casino (Fox Bet)$18,408,377 $907,025 $17,521,403 $911,248 $886,974 ($4,224)
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Unibet)$12,245,019 $360,400 $10,245,400 $272,627 $1,999,620 $87,773
Live! Philadelphia$5,072,368 $415,691 $0$0$5,072,368 $415,691
Harrah's Philadelphia (Caesars)$4,913,270 $168,092 $1,742,872 $136,078 $3,170,397 $32,015
Presque Isle Downs (TwinSpires)$4,718,941 $222,609 $1,423,499 ($14,229)$3,295,442 $236,838
Wind Creek$2,972,441 ($126,494)$2,241,499 ($186,870)$730,942 $60,375
South Philly Race & Sportsbook$2,484,201 $225,535 $0$0$2,484,201 $225,535
Mohegan Sun Lehigh Valley$1,207,823 $146,933 $0$0$1,207,823 $146,933
Live! Pittsburgh$813,682 $88,820 $0$0$813,682 $88,820
Total$560,259,181$29,352,345 $514,336,353 $25,981,515 $45,922,828 $3,370,830

March figures for Pennsylvania online sportsbooks:

  • FanDuel (Valley Forge Casino): $220.7 million in handle (up from $207.6 million), $14.3 million in revenue
  • DraftKings (The Meadows): $116.6 million in handle (up from $111.7 million), $6 million in revenue
  • Barstool (Hollywood Casino): $63.6 million in handle (down from $65 million), $3.3 million in revenue
  • BetMGM (Hollywood Casino Morgantown): $37.4 million in handle (up from $33.7 million), $1.7 in revenue
  • Rivers Casino Pittsburgh: $24.8 in handle (up from $20.4 million), $1.3 million in revenue
  • Parx online sportsbook: $18.7 million in handle (up from $17.7 million), $1.2 million in revenue
  • Fox Bet (Mount Airy): $17.5 million in handle (down from $17.9 million), $911,248 in revenue
  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia: $17.1 million in handle (up from $14.6 million), $912,183 in revenue
  • Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono): $10.2 million in handle (up from $7.5 million), $272,627 in revenue
  • BetFred (Wind Creek): $2.2 million in handle (up from $1.7 million), negative $186,870 revenue
  • Caesars Sportsbook (Harrah’s): $1.7 million in handle (up from $1.1 million), $136,078 in revenue
  • TwinSpires (Presque Isle Downs): $1.4 million in handle (up from $1.3 million), negative $14,229 in revenue

March fantasy figures

Fantasy operators reported about $1.8 million in revenue in March. It’s a small drop from $2 million in February. DraftKings and FanDuel earn nearly all of the DFS revenue in PA.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/AJ Mast

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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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