Rivers Is Sports Betting King In The West, But Will Out Of State Competition Slow It Down?

Written By Grant Lucas on March 29, 2019 - Last Updated on April 2, 2019
Rivers Sportsbook domination

For nearly four monthsRivers Sportsbook has operated on an island in Pennsylvania.

While Philadelphia sports betting has essentially become the center of the state’s regulated industry with six sportsbooksPittsburgh sports betting features a solo artist: Rivers.

In the near future, though, Rivers might have regional competition. Not within the Keystone State though. Rather in nearby Ohio and West Virginia.

However, Rush Street Interactive (RSI), which runs Rivers, remains unconcerned, as RSI President Richard Schwartz told PlayPennsylvania.

“For us, it’s not about whether there are other competing casinos in the region,” Schwartz said. “It’s about doing everything we can to provide players a positive experience at any property where we are a supplier.”

Rivers taking over PA sports betting

With its nearest PA sports betting competition more than 200 miles away, Rivers Sportsbook has thrived.

Through February, the property has totaled the highest handle among all sportsbooks in the state. Its PA sports betting revenue trails only its sister property, SugarHouse Sportsbook in Philadelphia, by less than $200,000.

Since December, the sportsbook has accounted for more than 28 percent of PA’s overall handle. And its total of $2.55 million in revenue vastly overshadows the average Philly sportsbook total of $854,000.

Approach to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia the same for Rush Street

Schwartz noted that nothing really changes as RSI approaches the operations of Rivers and SugarHouse.

“For example,” he said, “our odds and pricing in both Pennsylvania markets are the same, even though SugarHouse faces significant local competition, while Rivers does not.”

SugarHouse, which, like Rivers, is powered by Kambi Group, faces stiffer competition in Philadelphia. The area features six of the state’s eight sportsbooks currently operational.

“We are also always conscious that at the end of the day we are working on behalf of the casino,” Schwartz continued. “There are other sportsbook companies looking to build their own retail and mobile brands as part of their arrangement to provide a retail sportsbook to a land-based casino or racetrack partner.

“Our goal is simply to let the local casino brands be the star and give sportsbook customers a reason to visit the casino and to walk away feeling great about that experience.”

How will out-of-state sports betting affect Rivers?

The more direct competition for Rivers comes not from within Pennsylvania but just outside the state border.

To the south, West Virginia comes up on its eighth month of legalized sports betting. While its online wagering option skidded to a halt recently, operators such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook appear on the doorstep of introducing their mobile platforms in the near future. It is also worth noting that Mountaineer Casino is just over an hour away from Pittsburgh.

To the west, Ohio seems poised to roll out its regulated sports betting industry within the next few yearsGov. Mike DeWine did not include OH sports betting revenue in his recent budget proposal. However, he did note that he expects the industry to get going by the end of the two-year budget period, potentially with online wagering included.

Rush Street Interactive would not comment on this out-of-state competition. Certainly, though, these states provide more competition to Rivers than any of the sportsbook’s in-state cohorts.

For now, though, Rivers continues to set the standard in Pennsylvania.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.

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