Best Of The Books: PlaySugarHouse And BetRivers Weather The Storm

Posted on May 14, 2020 - Last Updated on May 17, 2020

Best of the Books highlights some of the offerings at Pennsylvania’s nine online sportsbooks. This week, we are taking a deeper dive into PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers every week.

In May 2019, PlaySugarHouse became the first operator to launch a legal online sportsbook in Pennsylvania. In less than four days after its debut, it took $573,163 in bets. Its sister site, BetRivers, debuted at the end of June.

As both books inch closer to their first anniversary, the country is amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has caused sweeping cancellations for sports and made operators get creative with offerings.

New betting markets emerge from demand

Since mainstream sports stopped, the Moscow Liga Pro, a table tennis league in Russia, became the most popular league at BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse. The return of UFC with UFC 249 on May 9 and Fight Night on May 13 quickly knocked table tennis out of the top spot.

Of the current top 10 sports leagues, UFC Fight Night accounted for 32% of the total amount wagered at both sportsbooks on May 13.

During this unchartered time for sports betting operators, Mattias Stetz, the COO of Rush Street Interactive, which operates PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers, took the time to answer some questions from PlayPennsylvania.

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Table tennis takes top spot at sportsbooks

Has bettors’ interest in table tennis met or exceeded expectations for PlaySugarHouse/BetRivers? Did you anticipate it would be the far-and-away leader in handle?

Table tennis has totally exceeded our expectations and over the past several weeks has become the betting pacesetter across BetRivers.com and PlaySugarHouse.com sportsbooks in Pennsylvania.

It has consistently been the wagering leader, excluding handle during the NFL Draft, since March 22. Our online bettors have missed March Madness and regular-season NBA, NHL and MLB access and table tennis is helping to fill that void.

What do you think attracts bettors to table tennis?

Table tennis has the same characteristics as popular betting sports, like tennis or baseball, but the game moves at an even faster pace. That, coupled with our live streaming of the games, generates a lot of betting options. It starts and stops all the time, with very fast changes in momentum, making it a fun game for live betting.

Variety is the spice of life for sportsbooks

The word of the pandemic is “unprecedented.” This is an unprecedented time for sportsbooks. How have you been able to adapt to the shutdown of mainstream sports?

Our sportsbook’s goal during these unprecedented times and always, quite frankly, is to offer the greatest variety of betting content available in Pennsylvania and, of course, the other states we operate.

In addition, PlaySugarHouse.com and BetRivers.com have been and will continue to provide live streaming events daily to give our players the chance to watch events while they bet. We have found and added live streaming on sporting events that are currently available around the world.

Along with offering bets on a variety of US and worldwide sports that are currently playing, we offer future bets on all major US sports, including the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Our sportsbook events include tennis, soccer, golf, plus country-specific specialties from around the globe such as Korean baseball, Taiwanese basketball, Russian ice hockey, English darts and, as we’ve been discussing, the fan-favorite, Ukrainian and Russian table tennis.

Pent-up demand

Do you expect pent-up demand for betting on live mainstream sports when they return?

Absolutely, we hear it in our chat rooms, and as soon as the major US sports, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and any other sports leagues resume, our players will be able to place bets on those games and events at PlaySugarHouse.com and BetRivers.com.

While Ukrainian and Russian table tennis has been a fan-favorite sport, we know our players can’t wait for live mainstream sports to return. (The UFC 24) will be a good indicator and we’re already seeing more handle on that event than the last UFC event prior to the shutdown, and usually, most of the handle comes on the day of the event, so it is really promising. 

Golf gets back into swing

Golf courses in Pennsylvania are open and soon there will be golf available for betting. Golf returns on May 17 with the TaylorMade Driving Relief, supported by UnitedHealth Group. Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson will compete against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts at Seminole Golf Club at Ponte Verde Beach, Florida.

TaylorMade Driving Relief is centered around a $3 million charity skins match to raise money and awareness for the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation. The team of McIlroy-Johnson will compete on behalf of the American Nurses Foundation, while Fowler-Wolff plays for the CDC Foundation.

PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers have betting specials for TaylorMade Driving Relief.

  • Hole-in-one in the tournament: Yes (+10,000)
  • Hole 5 – any player to hit a shot in the bunker: Yes (-120), No (-110)
  • Any player to hole out from off the green in the tournament: Yes (+110), No (-150)

Hole 8 – nearest to the hole after tee shot:

  • Rory McIlroy: +210
  • Dustin Johnson: +225
  • Rickie Fowler: +275
  • Matthew Wolf: +330

Leader after 9 holes – tie no bet:

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -159
  • Fowler/Wolf: +120

Hole 1 winner:

  • McIlroy-Johnson: +250
  • Tie: -120
  • Fowler-Wolf: +300

Hole 1 winner (no bet in case of a tie):

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -137
  • Fowler-Wolf: +110

Leader after three holes (no bet in case of a tie):

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -137
  • Fowler-Wolf: +110

Leader after six holes (no bet in case of a tie):

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -150
  • Fowler-Wolf: +120

Leader after 12 holes (no bet in case of a tie):

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -175
  • Fowler-Wolf: +130

Leader after 15 holes (no bet in case of a tie):

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -200
  • Fowler-Wolf: +150

Hole 7-16 winner (no bet in case of a tie):

  • McIlroy-Johnson: -159
  • Fowler-Wolf: +120
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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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