Online Sports Betting Pushes PA to Record Numbers


Pennsylvania online and land-based bettors wagered a record $109 million on sports in August 2019, up 84 per cent from the previous month, according to data released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The monthly data report covered the first weeks of the college football and National Football League (NFL) exhibition games of the 2019/20 season.

Online sports wagering accounted for $83.2 million of the Keystone State’s take, in other words just slightly more than three-quarters of all sports wagers in August 2019.

Breaking Down the August 2019 Pennsylvanian Numbers

Pennsylvanian sportsbook operators cashed in with $9.9 million in revenue raised from sports betting, an enormous increase from only $5.1 million in July and driven by the first weeks of the NFL exhibition game season and the return of College Football. Given the high tax rate on operators in Pennsylvania, State and local governments cleared $2.1 million in tax revenue from sports betting to assist in filling the state’s services and infrastructure budget.

The sports betting revenue was an integral part of the $293.4 million in revenue that Pennsylvania casinos, Daily Fantasy Sports operators, and video game terminals reported in August, a solid increase of 6.3% from the previous year.

However, the brave new world of online betting, includes sports wagering is growing fast in popularity in the Keystone State. Initially launched in Pennsylvania in July 2019, online casino games and betting on online slots, blackjack, and other table games almost tripled in August, increasing to $62 million. Bricks-and-mortar casinos retained $2.5 million in gross revenue of which the relevant state and local government authorities netted a handy $1.4 million in tax revenue for dispersal into the state’s consolidated revenue.

Online Sports Betting Drives the Massive Increase

The growing importance of online sports betting over land-based retail sportsbooks is hardly surprising. Licensed and regulated online wagering can be conducted anywhere within Keystone State lines, and it is significant to note that online sports betting accounts for about 85% of all sports betting made in neighboring New Jersey, the first state to launch online sportsbooks last year following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 that legalized the practice. New Jersey reported an astonishing $293.6 million in sports bets in August, or 269% of Pennsylvania’s total handle, however, PA is catching up fast.

SugarHouse Online Sportsbook recorded a strong result for August 2019, registering a solid $30.4 million in betting handle and $2.5 million in revenue. As SugarHouse was the first online sportsbook to go live in the Keystone State back in May 2019, so the solid result is scarcely surprising.

As the number of online sportsbooks opening in Pennsylvania continues to increase, the number of available options appears to be expanding the sports betting industry exponentially at this stage. While online gambling overall is definitely on the increase both in terms of its popularity and revenue, it is important to note that it is not at the expense of the land-based gaming industry. The bricks-and-mortar gaming sector in Pennsylvania still appears able to hold its own amid the intense competition in the industry. Looking at the overall trends, it appears seems that the growth could well balance out in the end, with each sector of the industry potentially being able to retain a sizeable chunk of the Keystone State’s market.

For example, with the land-based Unibet retail sportsbook recently opening at the Mohegan Sun Poconos Casino, initial projections also expect to see Unibet going ahead with online operations in Pennsylvania too. No timeline has yet been released for the opening of the online Unibet site, but sources close to the brand say ‘it’s only a matter of time’.