PA sports betting starts with a bang
Legal Sports Report

Early PA Sports Betting Numbers Show Expansion Potential In Keystone State

PA sports betting

At just one physical casino in only two weeks, PA sports betting generated more than a half-million dollars in revenue.

It certainly appears the Keystone State is ready for legal sports betting, based on those initial returns.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released Thursday its revenue figures for the first-ever month of PA sports betting. They show more than $500,000 in revenue on better than $1.4 million in handle — an incredible hold of more than 35 percent.

PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach:

“Nothing to comment on in regards to these early figures. From a higher level view, we certainly have been excited to work with the casinos to get the first three operations up and running, and look forward to helping other casinos to introduce sportsbooks (in the) months ahead along with a launch in 2019 of internet-based options, too.”

The report includes only the first two weeks at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville. Hollywood Casino sits in central Pennsylvania near Hershey and Harrisburg, and launched its sportsbook in the middle of a historic blizzard.

We’re not even talking Steelers or Eagles yet

That is to say, this revenue report does not even include the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas. Those metro regions only received sports betting operations last week when Rivers (Pittsburgh) and SugarHouse (Philadelphia) casinos opened shop.

Those two sportsbooks will contribute to a more indicative December revenue report that should appear in mid-January. Two weeks at Hollywood provide interesting discussion fodder, but offer scant predictive insight into the overall market.

Parx will join Hollywood, Rivers and SugarHouse with PA sports betting operations sometime in January. The company recently confirmed an early 2019 sportsbook launch at the Philadelphia-area casino.

And PA sports betting hasn’t even gone mobile yet

It will in the future, though. The 2017 law legalizing PA sports betting allows for mobile sports wagering.

The PGCB, though, will move slowly on the rollout of mobile in Pennsylvania. While NJ sports betting launched its retail and mobile operations simultaneously, the Keystone State will take a more cautious approach by starting physical sportsbooks first and following later with mobile.

Indications are that mobile PA sports betting could launch in the first quarter of 2019. As the rapid growth of mobile in NJ sports betting shows, offering athletic wagering on the interwebs could lead to a boom in Pennsylvania.

Casinos need that revenue to pay taxes, licenses

One prediction you can take to the bank: casinos will not post a 35 percent win every month. Yet they will need as much revenue as possible to account for the 36 percent tax rate on PA sports betting.

Penn National owes more than $183,000 in taxes on its November revenue. That breaks down to more than $173,000 in state tax assessment and more than $10,000 in local assessment.

A Penn National spokesman deferred comment on the report until the company’s quarterly earnings call.

Every casino that launches also will be working to pay back an initial $10 million investment on a license to operate PA sports betting. That tax rate and license fee accounts for the delayed launch of PA sports betting, which started months after its neighbor, New Jersey.

Thanks for playing, DFS

The PGCB also released its monthly report on daily fantasy sports (DFS) revenue Tuesday. While a total revenue haul of $3.2 million looks strong compared to previous months, it pales lined up against sports betting.

DraftKings and FanDuel led the way in PA DFS as usual. The market leaders accounted for more than 98 percent of market share in November revenue.

DraftKings posted more than $1.7 million in revenue and FanDuel reported better than $1.4 million. The state’s 15 percent tax rate on DFS led to more than $486,000 in state income for the month.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]
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