Pennsylvania Sports Betting Handle Bounces Back in December

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Pennsylvania online sportsbooks did not take long to return to their record-setting ways. After a relatively disappointing sports betting handle result in November, the Keystone State’s sportsbooks generated a record high of $548.6 million in sports wagering in December 2020, edging October 2020’s previous high-water mark of $525.8 million.

The record sports betting handle was almost exclusively set (97.6%) through the state’s online sportsbooks with most of Pennsylvania’s land-based sportsbooks closed due to global pandemic related restrictions.

The great result to close out 2020 saw the Keystone State taking in more than $3.5 billion in total sports bets in the difficult year to consolidate its position as the number 3 state in the nation behind market leaders, New Jersey and Nevada.

However, as fantastic as December 2020 was for the Keystone State, there are a trio of states competing strongly for Pennsylvania’s number 3 state spot. Colorado and Illinois, both relative newcomers to the legal sports betting scene have shown remarkable growth spurts since their respective launches. Moreover, a third and most serious challenger of all has emerged in the last month, with newly launched Michigan perhaps the sports betting market for Pennsylvania to keep the closest eye on.

2020 Saw a Spike on PA’s 2019 Sports Betting Numbers

Year-on-year, Pennsylvania saw a major spike in the value of legal sports bets taken in December 2020, compared to the previous December in 2019. The December 2020 overall sports wagering handle of $548.6 million was an increase of 60.1% over December 2019’s $342.6 million.

Online sports wagering over the calendar year also saw enormous increases. December 2020’s online sports betting handle of $535.2 million was an increase of 79.9% over December 2019’s $297.4 million in online handle.

Meanwhile, taxable gross sports betting revenue in Pennsylvania spiked an impressive 199.4%, up to a solid $34.1 million in December 2020 from $11.4 million in December 2019.  Revenues for the entire year of 2020 returned a total of $201 million, with the state government collecting a total of $47.8 million in taxes due to their 36% tax rate.

Barstool Sportsbook hitting new PA highs

FanDuel finished #1 in Pennsylvania in terms of betting handle. Together with DraftKings, the two giants took in 63.3% of the value of all December wagers, with FanDuel alone recording 38.8% of all bets placed.

However, Barstool Sportsbook was the most profitable in the Keystone State, topping all others to record the number one revenue spot.

The Penn National partnered online sportsbook, Barstool, handled $71.8 million worth of wagers, racking up $13.9 million in revenue, which amounts to 42% of the total revenue taken by all online sportsbooks. Both FanDuel and DraftKings took in half or less than half of Barstool’s profit despite handling twice as much in wagers due to offering more promotions to the state’s bettors.

The Barstool/Penn National partnership appears to be a winning one with the company looking to launch nationwide in 2021.  Barstool’s key demographic is young males, a demographic among the most avid sports betters and the reason behind the company’s expansion.

Online Sports Betting Still Behind Online Casinos in Pennsylvania

For all the gushing about sports betting numbers, we must remind ourselves that online casino revenue actually more than doubles online sports betting handle and revenue in the Keystone State;

  • Online sports betting revenue: $32.9 million (resulting in state government tax revenue of $11.8 million).
  • Online casino revenue: $71.6 million (resulting in state government tax revenue of $29.0 million).

The challenge remains for sportsbooks and the Pennsylvanian government to turn Keystone State sports betting into a more profitable model, resembling something akin to the profit margins of the state’s online casinos.

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