Pennsylvania April Sports Betting: A Hard Fall And Lots of Pain

Posted on May 18, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate sports betting. No mainstream sports meant a big drop for Pennsylvania sportsbooks.

Handle for April was $46 million, down 65% from March. Revenue fell 58% with the books only producing $2.8 million according to numbers released on Monday from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

It’s a far cry and a much different feeling than a few months ago. In January, PA posted a record-breaking month with $348.4 million in wagers and $22.8 million in revenue.

Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar casinos have been closed since mid-March. All wagers in April were placed online.

As much as things change, at least one thing stayed the same. FanDuel Sportsbook continues to hold the top spot with handle of $19 million and $1.3 million in revenue in April.

Coronavirus damages sportsbooks

Three major sports remain in limbo with no set-in-stone date for a return.

  • NBA: season suspended March 11
  • NHL: season suspended March 12
  • MLB: regular season planned start date of March 26 delayed

April would have featured NBA and NHL playoff action along with early season MLB games. The NCAA Final Four and NCAA Championship was slated for early April. The Masters was scheduled to start on April 9. PA sports betting was on track to at least approach the $350 million-mark nearly attained in January.

During an American Gaming Association webinar last week, Casey Clark, SVP of strategic communications said:

“The past few months should have been record-breaking for legal sports betting in America.”

Moscow Liga Pro, a table tennis league in Russia, became the most popular option for bettors. UFC returned in late April to help give the books a bit of a boost and there is some interest in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization). However, as April’s numbers indicate, they did little to plug the huge void left by the cancellation of major sports.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state suffering. New Jersey’s April handle was $54.6 million – a jarring drop from March ($181.9 million).

2020 PA sports betting handle, revenue and taxes

 January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020
Total Handle $348,381,708$329,765,782$131,330,059$46,015,988
Gross Revenue $22,841,192 $4,722,252$6,889,255$2,883,471
Taxes (36%)$8,222,829$1,700,011$2,480,1321,038,048

PA sports betting handle, revenue by operator in April 2020

Casino or Off-Track Betting FacilityTotal HandleTotal RevenueOnline HandleOnline RevenueRetail HandleRetail Revenue
FanDuel/Valley Forge Casino$19 million$1.3 million$19 million$1.3 million0($245)
DraftKings/The Meadows$12.6 million$700,000$12.6 million$700,00000
SugarHouse/Rivers Philadelphia$5.9 million$310,000$5.9 million$310,0000
($1,245)
FOX Bet/Mount Airy$3.7 million$230,000$3.7 million$230,00000
Rivers Pittsburgh$2.4 million$170,000$2.4 million$190,0000($21,000)
Parx $2.2 million$190,000$2.2 million$190,0000($321)
Presque Isle Downs$100,000($4,066)$100,000($4,066)00
Unibet/Mohegan Sun Pocono$90,000$14,000$90,000$14,00000
Harrah’s Philadelphia$30,000(-$600)$30,000(-$600)00
South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook000000
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course000000
Oaks Race and Sportsbook000000
Mohegan (The Downs at Lehigh Valley)000000
Statewide Total$46 million$2.9 million$46 million$2.9 million0($23,000)

A rough month for all

For the second straight month, all of Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks experienced a month-over-month decrease in handle. Only FOX Bet, ($229,469 revenue, up from $159,013) reported an increase in revenue.

Forty-one percent of all bets were placed online via FanDuel. DraftKings (The Meadows) won’t let a pandemic keep it from holding tight to second place with handle of $12.6 million and $815,110 revenue.

April 2020 total handle of $46 million is the lowest since May 2019 ($36 million). In May 2019, the first online sportsbook had just launched and there were only six retail operators. Currently, there are nine online sportsbooks and thirteen retail books.

The rest of PA online sportsbooks in March:

  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia: $5.9 million handle (down from $12 million); $309,551 revenue
  • Fox Bet (Mount Airy): $3.7 million handle, $229,469 revenue
  • Rivers Casino Pittsburgh: $2.4 million handle and $190,013 revenue
  • Parx online sportsbook: $2.2 million handle; $193,662 revenue
  • Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono): $92,521 handle and $14,362 revenue
  • Bet America (Presque Isle Downs): $97,107 handle; -$4,066 revenue
  • Harrah’s (Caesars sportsbook): $28,155 handle; -$557 revenue

Fantasy contests in March sink to an all-time low

Coronavirus is nightmare for DFS, too. Fantasy contest revenue dipped to an all-time low of $167,254 in April. Last month, fantasy revenue was $732,942, the lowest since July 2018, one month after legal fantasy sports started in Pennsylvania.

DraftKings ($123,748) and FanDuel ($43,506) earned all of the revenue of PA’s nine fantasy operators.

PA sports betting: Waiting, hoping

Small glimmers of light are starting to emerge from the major sports leagues but there is no set date for return. However, operators will likely post similar numbers in May and possibly June as well.

If NBA, NHL, and MLB return they would have a two- or three-week training camp and likely not start until early July with no fans in attendance.

The NFL continues to move forward with plans for a full season and early season betting lines are already up at PA sportsbooks.

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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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