Year one of sports betting is in the books and it was a good year!

  • No state has collected as much sports betting state tax revenue as Pennsylvania since June of this year.
  • Four sportsbooks in Pennsylvania are accounting for over four-fifths of the market share and revenue.
  • Online sports betting is continuing to help Pennsylvania sports betting grow into a powerhouse industry.

GRANTVILLE, Pa.Legal sports betting in Pennsylvania has officially hit the one-year mark, as the Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino opened for business on November 17, 2018.

Since taking in $1.4 million during the last two weeks of November 2018 and $5.1 million during all of December 2018, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course has collected over $30 million in wagers throughout 2019.

However, this is just one of the double-digit state-licensed sports betting operations in Pennsylvania, as the state is showing many of the other legal betting states how to property tax sports betting.

Pennsylvania set their licensing fee at $20 million per operation, and also requires the sportsbooks to contribute 34% of their sports betting revenue to the state in taxes – not including an additional 2% to the local governments.

Despite these high requirements, Doug Harbach, the communications director for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), explained to LegalSportsBetting how a similar situation was present when Pennsylvania approved casinos in 2004. With a tax rate and licensing fee much higher than other states, the PGCB still accepted more applications than available licenses.

“There were concerns about getting applications. As with sports wagering, that did not materialize,” said Harbach.

With over $600 million dollars wagered in the first twelve months of operations, Pennsylvania has secured roughly $18 million in additional taxes to support the general fund of the state.

With mobile sports betting finally taking control of the industry and the NFL season offering bettors many options to wager, no state has recorded more tax revenue in the last two reporting months (August and September) than Pennsylvania ($8.4 million). New Jersey came in second with roughly $1 million less than Pennsylvania followed by Nevada who collected just over half of that of Pennsylvania’s ($4.8 million).

Online sports betting is also a major factor in New Jersey, and Pennsylvania is seeing similar numbers of their neighbors with nearly four-fifths of all activity occurring through online platforms. However, also like New Jersey, the state is seeing a few sportsbooks dominate a hefty share of the industry. “The Big 4” in Pennsylvania (Parx Casino, Valley Forge Casino, Sugarhouse Casino, and Rivers Casino) have led the pack by a wide margin throughout the first year.

These four casinos account for 85% of the sports betting handle for the year and just over 80% of the revenue as well. With such a powerful hold on the market, the wonder is if the soon-to-launch online Pennsylvania sportsbooks will be able to hold a competitive edge throughout the online betting market.

Regardless, it doesn’t send a worry to the PGCB, who explained that many entities are still looking to enter the online sports wagering market in the near future.

“We look at each proposal to offer online sports wagering on its own merit and not against the competition it will face. With the launch [last week] of DraftKings through the Meadows Casino sports wagering license, it is our belief that they would not have issues getting off the ground and competing in the PA market.”

Pennsylvania has also approved online gaming throughout the state – something that not many other states can honestly claim. Despite neighboring states hesitant to approve iGaming, Pennsylvania has shown that both land-based and online gaming options can exist in the state.

“Land-based casino revenue has not fallen off since the introduction of iGaming options,” said Harbach. “However, with just a few online wagering sites… it is too early to gauge any effect on land-based slots and table gaming”.

There is no doubt the entire sector of online gaming will continue to grow in Pennsylvania, and with more sportsbooks finalizing their online sports betting requirements, there is nothing to slow it down.

In total, the state’s sportsbooks have collected over $9 million during the first two months of the NFL betting season. With the sportsbooks in Pennsylvania setting a new record betting handle every month since June – going from $46.3 million to $194.5 million – records should continue to be broken until bettors reach March Madness.

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