Unprecedented in a myriad of ways, 2020 was also a record year for Pennsylvania sportsbooks – capped off with all-time high handle of $548.6 million in December. That broke the previous record of $525.8 million set in October 2020.
Compared to November, sports betting handle was up 11.5%. Revenue also neared all-time highs in December at $34.1 million – down 8.8% from November’s all-time high of $37.4 million.
Overall in 2020, PA saw over $3.5 billion in total bets placed across retail and online sportsbooks.
PA isn’t the only state that had a banner December. New Jersey continues to shatter all-time monthly handle records for any state, taking $931.6 million in bets in the final month of 2020. Nevada’s December numbers are expected to fall between NJ and PA once again. (NJ first topped Nevada for the lead in handle in May 2020.)
Meanwhile, PA sports wagering continues to flourish as the No. 3 largest market in the country. In Pennsylvania, FanDuel maintains its status as the leader for handle; however in December, Barstool took the top spot for revenue.
Online sports betting and iGaming now significant source of revenue
Online wagering has proven critical in a year where casinos and other forms of gambling were shut down for more than four months, including from Dec. 12 through the end of the year.
According to figures released by the PGCB, overall gaming revenue in December totaled $168.7 million – a decrease of 42.2% YoY compared to Dec. 2019. But the decrease could have been much, much worse were it not for online gambling streams.
- Online casino revenue*: $71.6 million (tax revenue: $29.0 million)
- Online sports betting revenue: $32.9 million (tax revenue: $11.8 million)
*includes $2.7 million in revenue from online poker
That means in December, revenue from online betting accounted for 61.9% of PA’s total gaming revenue – and that doesn’t even count daily fantasy contests.
Continued growth for online sports betting in PA
With the state’s retail sportsbooks shuttered for most of the month, PA online sports betting apps accounted for 97.5% of December wagers, or $535.2 million in handle.
While retail sports betting began in Nov. 2018, online betting apps started trickling in beginning late May 2019 (PlaySugarHouse the first). By the end of 2019, there were eight online apps.
The year 2020 saw the addition of the following:
- Caesars Sportsbook (Harrah’s Casino) – March 2020
- Barstool Sportsbook (Hollywood Casino Grantville) – Sept. 2020
- BetMGM Sportsbook (Hollywood Casino Morgantown) – Dec. 2020
- Betfred Sportsbook (Wind Creek Bethlehem) – Dec. 2020
Demonstrating the market’s major growth over the past year, sports betting revenue was up nearly 200% YoY – from $11.4 million in December 2019. Handle was up 60.1% from $342.6 million in Dec. 2019.
Top players in PA online sports betting December 2020
A month filled with NFL, college football, NBA, and college basketball gave bettors plenty to choose from. FanDuel, in partnership with Valley Forge Casino, posted a record-setting month for handle ($207.6 million ) and gave out a record amount of promo credits ($5.6 million). Revenue for FanDuel in December was $7.1 million, down from a record-breaking $15.1 million in November.
For the fourth consecutive month, DraftKings has surpassed the $100 million mark for handle and it appears there is no looking back. DraftKings took $131.5 million in bets (a record for the operator in the state). DraftKings’s revenue was $5.4 million, down from $6.9 in November.
PA sportsbooks continued their generosity in December, too. Online sportsbooks handed out $11.3 million in promo credits – nearly half of which came from FanDuel.
The state collected $11.2 million from sports betting taxes in December 2020, with another $657,852 for local taxes.
Big month for Barstool
Barstool online sportsbook saw a surge in handle ($71.8 million) and revenue ($13.9 million) in December. In its fourth month, Barstool finished tops among all of PA’s online sportsbooks for revenue. PA online sportsbook mobile apps combined for $33 million in revenue with Barstool accounting for 42% of it.
Dave Portnoy, Barstool Sports founder and face of the sportsbook, launched The Barstool Fund in December to provide for small businesses affected by the pandemic.
What is handle and revenue?
As figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and other state’s regulatory commissions release monthly reports, the top line numbers are handle and revenue.
So, for those who are new or might be afraid to ask, here is the answer:
- Handle: Amount wagered over the time period.
- Revenue: Amount of money kept by sportsbooks out of the amount wagered.
- Taxes: Taxes collected by state and local jurisdictions. Sports betting in PA is taxed at a rate of a 34% state tax and 2% in local taxes.
PA sports betting handle & revenue by operator in December 2020
|Sports Betting Operator||Total Handle||Total Revenue||Online Handle||Online Revenue||Retail Handle||Retail Revenue|
|Valley Forge Casino (FanDuel)||$209,239,948||$7,280,027||$207,608,213||$7,053,490||$1,631,735||$226,537|
|The Meadows Casino (DraftKings)||$131,462,173||$5,425,957||$130,909,333||$5,373,015||$552,840||$52,942|
|Hollywood/Penn National (Barstool)||$72,565,263||$13,932,121||$71,779,304||$13,880,692||$785,958||$51,429|
|Mount Airy Casino (Fox Bet)||$28,861,696||$1,856,270||$28,577,967||$1,840,166||$283,730||$16,104|
|Rivers Pittsburgh (BetRivers)||$28,827,215||$1,816,587||$26,759,634||$1,622,379||$2,067,581||$194,208|
|Rivers Philadelphia (PlaySugarHouse)||$21,814,454||$1,025,425||$21,814,454||$1,040,656||$0||-$15,231|
|Hollywood Casino Morgantown (BetMGM)||$12,069,468||$33,148||$12,069,468||$33,148||$0||$0|
|Mohegan Sun Pocono (Unibet)||$9,608,965||$42,513||$8,938,522||$86,200||$670,443||-$43,687|
|Presque Isle Downs (BetAmerica)||$2,767,558||$184,971||$1,509,947||-$7,840||$1,257,610||$192,811|
|Harrah's Philadelphia (Caesars)||$2,465,806||$154,422||$1,400,012||$15,700||$1,065,794||$138,721|
|Mohegan Sun Lehigh Valley||$498,163||$63,572||$0||$0||$498,163||$63,572|
|Live! Casino Pittsburgh||$165,834||$29,633||$0||$0||$165,834||$29,633|
|South Philly Race & Sportsbook||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0|
PA online sportsbooks in December:
- FanDuel (Valley Forge Casino): $207.6 million in handle (up from $176.7 million), $7 million in revenue
- DraftKings (The Meadows): $130.9 million in handle (up from $109.9 million), $5.4 million in revenue
- Barstool (Hollywood Casino): $71.8 million in handle (up from $55.6 million), $13.9 million in revenue
- Fox Bet (Mount Airy): $28.6 million in handle (up from $28 million), $1.8 million in revenue
- Rivers Casino Pittsburgh: $26.7 million in handle (down from $28 million), $1.6 million in revenue
- Parx online sportsbook: $23.7 million in handle (up from $19.4 million), $2 million in revenue
- Rivers Casino Philadelphia: $21.8 million in handle (up from $19.4 million), $1 million in revenue
- Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono): $9 million (up from $8.1 million), $86,200 in revenue
- Caesars Sportsbook (Harrah’s): $1.4 million in handle (up from $1 million), $15,700 in revenue
- Bet America (Presque Isle Downs): $1.5 million in handle (up from $957,165), negative $7,840 in revenue
- BetMGM (Hollywood Casino Morgantown): $12 million handle and $33,148 revenue (launched Dec. 18)
- BetFred (Wind Creek) $99K handle and in the red for revenue ($16,619) in first month (soft launched Dec. 22)
PA sports betting: How it started, how it’s going
|December 2018||December 2020|
|Handle||$16 million||$548.6 million|
|Revenue||$2 million||$34 million|
December fantasy figures
In December, fantasy operators combined to report about $3 million in revenue, an increase of 1.14% over November of last year. DraftKings and FanDuel account for most of the DFS action in PA.
Note: PlayPA editor Valerie Cross contributed to this article.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar