Pennsylvania sports betting revenue is getting back to normal

  • Pennsylvania sportsbooks handled $111.4 million in wagers and earned $8.6 million in revenue in June, with a hold rate of 7.5%.
  • Handle and revenue continue to increase rapidly every month as the sports betting industry recovers from the March crash caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Projections indicate that Pennsylvania will still finish 2020 well ahead of 2019 in terms of both sports betting handle and revenue.
  • The loss of nonconference football games could make a sizable financial dent, however.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania once again saw a sizable uptick in sports betting handle and revenue in June, crossing the $100 million handle threshold for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

In total, Pennsylvania sportsbooks handled $111.4 million in wagers in June and collected $8.6 million in taxable sports betting revenue—a hold rate of 7.5%. Sportsbooks paid $2.8 million in state taxes and $167,000 in city taxes. The handle figure represents a 49% increase over May, while revenue is up 73%.

Revenue numbers can fluctuate heavily based on hold rate, but the vastly increased betting handle is a very encouraging sign of growth for Pennsylvania’s sports betting industry.

Total sports betting handle is now up to $1.04 billion in 2020, while taxable revenue is up to $50.5 million.

Pennsylvania casinos have begun to reopen at reduced capacity starting in late June, which could provide another boost to handle and revenue in the coming months, although the majority of betting action will still be online.

PA 2020 Revenue Projections – The Good

Using an LSB projection method, it is possible to estimate Pennsylvania’s total sports betting handle and revenue for 2020.

Right now, Pennsylvania sportsbooks are projected to finish the year with $2.2 billion in total handle and $129.9 million in revenue—year-over-year increases of 48% and 26%, respectively.

Given the limiting nature of the pandemic (live sports cancellations, casino closures, etc.), these figures are hugely impressive and indicative of the overall success of the legal sports betting market, although they do fall well short of pre-pandemic projections.

Of course, there is still a chance that Pennsylvania sportsbooks will exceed these new projections. Major League Soccer returned to play on July 8 and three other major professional sports leagues (the NBA, MLB and NHL) are scheduled to resume their seasons by August 1.

The NFL season is also still scheduled to begin on September 13, with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles looking like solid playoff contenders.

The return of popular live sports, especially ones with successful franchises in Pennsylvania, should drive a high volume of bets.

PA 2020 Revenue Projections – The Bad

The Big Ten conference, home of the Penn State University Nittany Lions, has announced that it will not be playing nonconference college football games this season because of concerns about the coronavirus.

Penn State is one of the most iconic brands in college football and has a diehard fan base throughout Pennsylvania. The loss of three nonconference games will be a huge blow to sportsbooks.

Additionally, other Division-I teams in the state, including the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and Temple University, could also face truncated schedules. More conference commissioners are set to make decisions regarding 2020 scheduling by the end of July.

It is possible that sports betting revenue for these teams will be largely unaffected, especially if conferences seek to expand their in-conference schedules, but it is important to at least acknowledge the financial threat of lost games.

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