Record highs in January for both handle and revenue at PA sportsbooks.

  • Pennsylvania became the latest state to post a record handle during the 2019-2020 NFL playoffs.
  • Revenues increased even more drastically than the handle, thanks largely to the Eagles’ playoff loss.
  • Record revenues also meant record tax collections for both the state and cities.

HARRISBURG, Penn. – New financial reports indicate that Pennsylvania’s sports betting industry broke records for the total handle, revenue, and tax contributions in January 2020.

Pennsylvania’s 12 licensed sportsbooks handled a combined $348.4 million in January, $5.8 million more than the previous record. This growth is in line with national trends during the NFL playoffs this year. Several other states like New Jersey posted record handles of their own in January.

More impressive than the total handle was the revenue generated. The $31.6 million in profits was $11 million more than any previous month. That’s a nearly 54% increase.

This record-breaking performance was buoyed by a higher than usual hold percentage of 9.07%. For reference, Pennsylvania sportsbooks averaged a hold percentage of 6.37% through the first four months of the NFL season.

While individual bets are kept private, it isn’t difficult to speculate on the cause of this inflated hold percentage. The Philadelphia Eagles lost at home in the Wild Card round to the Seattle Seahawks despite entering the game as slight favorites.

Fans at regional sportsbooks tend to bet disproportionately on local teams. Books likely saw a heavy volume of losing bets on the Eagles.

Five Pennsylvania sportsbooks had a hold percentage of at least 10% in January. In December and November, the combined number of double-digit hold percentages was three. The South Philadelphia Turf Club led all licensed retailers with a hold of 16.54%.

Who Benefitted From This Record-Breaking Month?

The largest beneficiary of Pennsylvania’s January windfall was the Meadows Casino, just outside of Pittsburgh. Despite opening its doors in October, the Meadows Sportsbook has already established itself as the second most popular sports betting retailer in PA, trailing only the Valley Forge Casino.

After handling $18.1 million in its first full month of operation (November), Meadows became the third-most trafficked sportsbook in Pennsylvania with $37.6 million wagered in December. In January, that total rose to $60.2 million.

After Meadows Casino, the second-largest beneficiary was the state of Pennsylvania itself, which collected $10.7 million in state taxes and $631,000 in city taxes from the revenue generated. That money will help fund education and infrastructure improvements throughout the state.

Despite initial concerns that Pennsylvania’s high sports betting taxes would disincentivize potential operators, its total tax collections continue to lead the country, ahead of even Nevada and New Jersey, which handle a much larger volume of sports wagers.

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