Does Giving Equal Success? Breaking Down Promo Credits At PA Online Sportsbooks

Posted on January 6, 2020 - Last Updated on January 8, 2020

At PA online sportsbooks, there is a one-size-fits-all gift for customers: promotional credits.

The “season of giving” officially began when the first online sportsbook launched in May. Promotional credits, which include sign-up and bonus offers, are used to woo new users and keep existing ones engaged.

Top promo players in Pennsylvania

FanDuel has doled out the most in promotional credits overall, awarding $9.3 million since it launched in September 2019. The site handed out the most in a single month when it gave $3 million in credit in November 2019.

FanDuel’s Director of Publicity Kevin Hennessy said its a part of delivering a first-class, customer-first experience.

SugarHouse, now Rivers Philadelphia, was the first online sportsbook to launch in Pennsylvania. It started on a strong three-month run of heavy promotional credits; however, the past three months have seen a noticeable drop-off in the numbers.

The same can be said of its Western PA sister casino Rivers Pittsburgh. After giving away more than $1 million and $1.4 million in July and August, respectively, promo credits drastically declined over the next three months. It gave out less than $600,000 in site credits in October or November.

DraftKings launched its mobile sports betting app in PA in early November and gave out over $580,000 during its initial month.

Parx, which finished 2018 as the highest-grossing casino for retail slot revenue and second for table games, is taking a different approach with promo credits for its sportsbook. Parx ranks towards the bottom in terms of giving away free betting money in the latter months of 2019.

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PA online sportsbooks promotional credit chart

Here is a month-by-month look at the amount each online sportsbook gave away in promotional credits.

Casino or Off-Track Betting FacilityNovemberOctoberSeptemberAugustJulyJune
FanDuel/Valley Forge Casino$3,512,468 $2,416,149$2,374,680$900,047$120,827n/a
SugarHouse/Rivers Philadelphia$554,349$560,514 $727,825 $1,308,279$986,057$845,831
Rivers Pittsburgh$598,274$536,019$799,981 $1,444,805 $1,024,583 $195,518
Parx $313,394$486,990$506,151$119,591$90,826$28,213
FOX Bet/Mount Airy$215,921 $168,856 $37,308n/an/an/a
Unibet/Mohegan Sun Pocono$73,082 n/an/an/an/an/a
DraftKings/The Meadows$582,598n/an/an/an/an/a

Is it better to give?

Do freebies equal success?

Here’s a breakdown of the top three online sportsbook operators based on data since July 2019:

  • FanDuel: $387 million handle/$27.5 million revenue/$9.3 million promotional credits
  • SugarHouse: $140.8 million handle/$10.2 million revenue/$4 million promotional credits
  • Rivers Pittsburgh: $107 million handle/$7 million revenue/$4.4 million promotional credits

FanDuel accounts for about 56% of the bets placed online in Pennsylvania. It is the far-and-away leader of handle and revenue in the Commonwealth.

Hennessey commented:

“The FanDuel Sportsbook continues to be the top choice for sports bettors in Pennsylvania. With more than 55% of total online handle, we will continue our market leadership by bringing two new retail locations to the Keystone State in partnership with Cordish Companies in 2020.”

A new player enters in PA with a promo punch

FanDuel and DraftKings, both behemoths of the DFS world, already had an expansive customer base before entering the world of legal sports betting. Still, they are most generous when it comes to offering site credits.

In New Jersey, FanDuel also maintains a foothold as leader of the sports betting market with DraftKings as the runner-up. As the months go by, it will be interesting to see how things shake out in PA.

During its first month, DraftKings showed they were in a giving mood to the tune of nearly $600K. It surpassed Fox Bet to crack the top five for online handle with $16 million. It’s difficult to tease apart the impact of promo credits and brand recognition in terms of resulting handle volume.

According to the Head of Sportsbook Digital at DraftKings Jamie Shea:

“DraftKings is always looking for ways to make its presence felt especially when entering in new markets. We carefully consider different promotional opportunities for fans to experience what we feel is the best sports betting product on the market.”

Taxes play a role in promo payout

A big reason for promo credits is that they are not subject to Pennsylvania’s whopping 36% tax rate.

FanDuel’s revenue to date is almost $28.6 million. If the company was taxed on that amount, it would owe about $10.3 million.

However, FanDuel gave out $9.3 million in promo credits during that time, bringing its gross revenue to just over $19.2 million. So, the company is on the hook for about $6.9 million in taxes.

In the case of promo credits, giving them is better than receiving a (bigger) tax bill.

What bettors should know about promo credits

When it comes to promotional credits, bettors should read the full terms and conditions. The fine print tends to include stipulations on the “free funds,” such as:

  • Placing a bet within a certain number of days of the initial deposit.
  • Bonus money bets can not exceed certain odds.
  • Playthrough requirements before withdraw.
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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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