Unibet Sportsbook at Lehigh Valley-Mohegan Sun Pocono.

  • Pennsylvania sports betting revenue increase from $4.7 million to $6.9 million from February to March.
  • At the same time, handle decreased by over 60%, down to just $131.3 million.
  • The financial future of sportsbooks across the country, including Pennsylvania, is in doubt as COVID-19 will have an unpredictable effect on both sports and consumer behavior.

HARRISBURG, Penn.Pennsylvania saw a net increase in sports betting revenue in March despite the mitigating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, but drastically reduced betting handle paints a bleak picture for the coming months.

Pennsylvania sportsbooks collected $6.9 million in adjusted gross sports betting revenue from a total of $131.3 million in wagers—a hold rate of 5.25%.

As usual, the Valley Forge Casino led all Pennsylvania sportsbooks with $54.5 million in total handle and $2.7 in adjusted gross revenue. The Meadows Casino sportsbook, which only launched in September 2019, was the only other book to top $1 million in revenue.

A new Pennsylvania casino sportsbook — the Unibet Sportsbook at Lehigh Valley-Mohegan Sun Pocono — opened in March, handling $176,000 in wagers and collecting $44,000 in revenue.

Pennsylvania’s total March betting handle of $131.2 million was a steep 60.2% decrease from February. The loss of March Madness, the second biggest betting event of the year after the Super Bowl, was an immense blow to the sports betting industry.

The March sports schedule essentially lasted only 11 days with the suspensions of the NBA, NHL and college basketball on March 11 and 12. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown on March 16, which forced all brick-and-mortar casinos to close their doors.

After extrapolating this limited financial data over a full, 31-day month, Pennsylvania was on track for $370.1 million in total handle and $19.4 million in revenue in March. This would have been Pennsylvania’s new record high for handle and third-highest monthly revenue total.

COVID-19 Financial Impact On PA Sports Betting

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on state, national, and international economies. Many industries have shut down to help contain the spread of the virus, and millions of Americans have been laid off to cut costs.

The virus’s effects on consumer behavior will be unpredictable. It could cause a spike in betting activity as more people are at home with nothing to do, or it could cause a sizable decrease in activity as people try to cut luxury spending.

Some powerful parties have been pushing for a return to normalcy as early as May, but it could be as long as 18 to 24 months before large venues, including casinos and sports facilities, can safely reopen to the public.

Many leagues, including the MLS, MLB, the NBA, and the UFC, have considered resuming play from a centralized location with an altered scheduling format. This could feasibly keep players and employees safe, but the ongoing pandemic would call into question the necessity of hosting sporting events at all.

The timetable for the return of sports is extremely uncertain, and so Pennsylvania sportsbooks may need to find ways to stretch their March and February revenues for months, if not longer. Unfortunately, February was an abnormally poor month for Pennsylvania because of the Super Bowl.

In other words, the sports betting industry in Pennsylvania could be in dire straits, and there isn’t an easy solution.

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