PA Hits New High In Sports Betting, With DraftKings Providing Big Boost

New online sports betting sites helped push Pennsylvania’s sports wagering handle to a new high of $342.6 mm in December.

New online sports betting sites helped push Pennsylvania’s sports wagering handle to a new high of $342.6 mm in December, an increase of 8.2% over November.

The addition of the first full month of betting through DraftKings, in particular, helped the state overcome the traditional December drop in sports betting after the end of the regular college football season, according to figures released Thursday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The increase was all due to a boost in online wagering, which represented a new high share of 86.8% of bets, with $297.4 mm. The amount wagered online at eight sites was 11.5% higher than the month before.

The retail sector, at 12 locations, dipped 9.3% in December to $45.1 mm.

The December volume pushed the total amount wagered legally on sports in Pennsylvania in 2019 to $1.49 billion. The gaming board reported the operators retained $84.1 mm of that as revenue — a 5.6% hold percentage — and state and local governments received $30.3 mm in taxes from it.

FanDuel is still king, but DraftKings moves up

While FanDuel easily remained the king of sports betting, taking $154.5 mm in wagers, its share of the overall online market fell from 56.1% to 52%.

DraftKings, the online partner of the Meadows Racetrack & Casino, more than doubled its handle over its November total to reach $35.9 mm, placing second among eight online operators with 12% of the market.

It was also the first full month of online operations by Unibet, tied to Mohegan Sun Pocono, and it reached $6.1 mm in handle.

New in December, operating for half a month, was Churchill Downs’ online BetAmerica site, through Presque Isle Downs, but it only took $129,556 in bets.

FOX Bet, meanwhile, continued showing impressive growth with its site tied to Mount Airy Casino Resort, increasing handle by 21.3% to $16.4 mm.

Revenue numbers less impressive than handle growth

Unlike the handle, revenue actually went down in the state compared to September, October, and November. Revenue stood at $17.5 mm in December, but due to a record $6.1 mm in promotional credits, the amount retained by operators and taxed by the state was just $11.4 mm.

Revenue was down not just because of those promotional incentives, which are common by online sites to attract new customers, but better success by gamblers. The Pennsylvania sportsbooks’ hold percentage of 5.1%, while comparable to what is historically common in Nevada, was lower than in prior months.

Among retail sportsbooks, three casinos were bunched at the top as the most popular, as has been common for months. Those were Rivers Philadelphia ($7.7 mm in handle), Parx ($7.5 mm), and Rivers Pittsburgh ($7.5 mm).

Because Pennsylvania’s sports betting industry is so young, with only Hollywood Casino having operated a sportsbook for a full month in December 2018, it is not possible yet to make meaningful year-to-year comparisons.

It is likely that early 2020 monthly figures will decline for existing sportsbooks, due to the end of the NFL regular season. But with the potential for three more online sportsbooks launching this year, it is certain that the overall state handle will only increase compared to a year ago.


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