What does Pennsylvania sports betting have in store for an encore?
It will be hard to top the excitement of 2019. Technically, legalized sports betting started in Pennsylvania in November 2018, but 2019 will be remembered as the year sports betting exploded across the Commonwealth.
At the beginning of the year, there were only three retail sportsbooks and no online options. As of January 2020, there are eight online sportsbooks and 12 retail sportsbooks.
Betting handle has increased every month since April. By the end of 2019, Pennsylvanians had bet nearly $1.5 billion on sports through the new regulated channels.
The mobile explosion of sports betting in PA
More retail sportsbooks opened, and a few like Rivers, SugarHouse, and Parx invested big bucks in permanent, state-of-the-art spaces. However, judging by the numbers, sports bettors in PA prefer to place bets on their phones and computers as a staggering 87% of wagers in the state are placed on PA online betting apps.
SugarHouse rolled out the first online sportsbook at the end of May. BetRivers and Parx joined the following month. FanDuel entered the market in July and has claimed the top spot for handle and revenue every month since August.
How big of an impact did mobile betting have?
Since July, the amount of wagers placed in Pennsylvania has increased 477%.
2019 Pennsylvania sports betting handle and revenue
The following is a month-by-month breakdown of PA sports betting handle and revenue.
|Total Handle||Total Revenue|
Launch dates of mobile and retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania
An Oct. 30, 2018 gaming expansion bill paved the way for sports betting in PA. It was in 2019 that the state saw that expansion come to fruition.
Dates of retail and online sports betting launches in Pennsylvania can be seen here:
|Hollywood Casino||Nov. 2018|
|Rivers Casino Pittsburgh||June 2019||Nov. 2018|
|SugarHouse||May 2019||Nov. 2018|
|Parx||June 2019||January 2019|
|Valley Forge Casino Resort (FanDuel)||July 2019||March 2019|
|Presque Isle||June 2019|
|Mount Airy Casino (FOX Bet)||September 2019||September 2019|
|Mohegan (Unibet)||September 2019||November 2019|
|Meadows (DraftKings)||October 2019||November 2019|
Continued competition good for the PA market
DraftKings Sportsbook, which has only been in the PA market for two months, saw the amount wagered on its app more than double to $36 million in December. DraftKings went from taking the fifth-most bets in the state to second, behind FanDuel. Its month-over-month growth was a big factor in the Commonwealth’s record December numbers.
Chris Krafcik, Managing Director of Sports & Emerging Verticals at Eilers and Krejcik commented on DraftKings in Pennsylvania via Twitter:
Most of the m/m growth (in $ terms) was attributable to DK, which, in its first full month of PA online ops, generated the 2nd-largest amount of online handle (if you count online handle attrib'd to Rivers props separately). DK's Dec. promo:rev ratio was 65% vs 42% market-wide. https://t.co/Y9xiBZVnP0
— Chris Krafcik (@CKrafcik) January 16, 2020
Part of DraftKings’ surge is attributable to their aggressive promotional rate, which Krafcik believes is here to stay in the short term. He also predicts a continuation of the dominance the top two online operators were experiencing by the end of 2019. Krafcik told PlayPennsylvania:
“In the near term, we anticipate that Pennsylvania’s online sports betting market will retain its winner-take-most shape, with a small handful of hyper-motivated operators—namely, FanDuel and DraftKings, which had nearly 65% combined market share in December—deploying significantly more marketing and promotional resource than the remainder of the market.”
The competition of FanDuel and DraftKings, along with the other options available in the state, should continue to provide PA bettors with some of the best online sportsbook promotions around.
What to expect for PA handle and revenue in 2020
In terms of handle and revenue in 2020 and beyond, Krafcik predicts a continuation of the current balance of online vs. retail. He also sees the 2019 revenue of $84,112,967 multiplying by seven- to eight-times eventually.
“We expect the Pennsylvania sports betting market to generate total revenue of between $600m and $700m once mature, with the bulk of that total—or 85%+—coming from the online channel.”
Based on this projection and assuming a hold target of 6.5% for revenue, annual handle could reach upwards of between $9.2 billion and $10.8 billion.
With the current pace of growth, a full year with retail and online sports betting could boost handle to around half of projected market maturity. Using the above numbers, PA sports betting could approximate the following targets in 2020:
- Between $4 billion and $6 billion in handle
- Between $275 million and $350 million in revenue
Considering New Jersey got close to $5 billion in handle in its second year, it seems reasonable that Pennsylvania could do the same with an even larger population.
Upcoming revenue figures will provide a better indication of exactly what the market has in store for the near future. If the Keystone State keeps up the pace, expect 2020 to be an impressive year for PA sports betting.