The way to measure sportsbook success in 2021 is not through brick-and-mortar numbers. Not when most states that offer both in-person and mobile see upward of 90% of their handle coming via the latter.
Pennsylvania is one of those states, and in February figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, 92.2% of the month’s wagers were placed via computers, phones, and tablets.
FanDuel Sportsbook led the way, with $179.2 million in online handle and more than $7.3 million in online revenue.
All land-based sportsbook numbers in Pennsylvania are miniscule in comparison to figures like that.
Still, the February data for in-person betting revenue is quite telling. It’s more lopsided than ever toward the Philadelphia-area sportsbooks — a trend with the potential to continue until the next football season begins.
Revenue rankings for the 15 books
There were 15 B & M sportsbooks open in February, and here’s how they ranked in terms of revenue:
|South Philly Race & Sportsbook||$325,084|
|Valley Forge Casino Resort||$240,151|
|Mohegan Sun Pocono||$220,444|
|Presque Isle Downs and Casino||$175,133|
|Mohegan Sun Lehigh Valley||$112,678|
|The Meadows Casino||$88,133|
|Mount Airy Casino Resort||$41,389|
|Wind Creek Bethlehem||$39,348|
|Hollywood Casino at Penn National||-$146,188|
The three venues within the Philadelphia city limits — Rivers Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse), the new Live! Philadelphia, and the South Philly Race & Sportsbook right across the street from Live! (more casually referred to as “the Turf Club”) — all ranked among the top four. Rounding out that top four was the most popular casino in PA, Parx, located about 20 miles from downtown Philly.
Valley Forge Casino Resort in the Philadelphia suburb of King of Prussia finished in fifth place, and Harrah’s Philadelphia, located just southwest of the city in Chester, placed seventh.
Combined, the six Philly-area venues generated $2,262,851 in retail sports betting revenue — which equates to a perfectly Philadelphia-appropriate 76% of the total retail wagering revenue in the state.
The Pittsburgh area casinos, meanwhile, including Rivers Pittsburgh, The Meadows, and the new Live! Pittsburgh mini-casino, all ranked on the bottom half of the list.
Why was February so lopsided?
This is not typically the way it shakes out. Just one month earlier, in January, Rivers Pittsburgh was no. 1 in the state in land-based sports betting revenue. Of course, that month was a bit of an outlier in that the Steelers made the playoffs and lost outright as a favorite against the Cleveland Browns, a dream result for local sportsbooks.
It’s entirely logical that there would be more betting done in Philly in February than in other parts of the state, since the 76ers were rolling along as the top team in the Eastern Conference while Pittsburgh doesn’t have an NBA team. The Pitt Panthers men’s basketball team had a lousy 10-12 season and finished 12th in the ACC, whereas nationally ranked Villanova and other Philadelphia area schools were playing more meaningful games.
Particularly noteworthy is the performance of Live! Philadelphia — which wasn’t even fully open to the public yet when February began — and the South Philly Race & Sportsbook, which have yet to benefit in 2021 from large throngs attending Sixers, Flyers, Phillies, and Eagles games. The Wells Fargo Center just started letting in fans in limited numbers on March 7. The new Live! casino in particular should see an uptick in business when the March numbers are reported.
Then looking at the months ahead, more Flyers and Sixers games, combined with Phillies games in April, while the Pirates begin play across the state with expectations of being MLB’s worst team, could be a formula for this lopsided betting revenue to continue all through the summer — until the Steelers return in September to bring Pittsburgh’s diehards out to the sportsbook.