NFL Schedule Shares Blame For PA Sports Betting Handle Dip To $490M In November

Posted on December 17, 2020
Written By on December 17, 2020

The Pennsylvania sports betting market has been growing and breaking records just like most others – until November, that is.

November’s handle fell 6.4% to $491.9 million compared to October. The most likely reason for the dip is two missed NFL games crucial to the market: the Philadelphia Eagles had their bye week while the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ game against the Baltimore Ravens originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night was delayed into December.

Another tick against handle could be that sports betting revenue grew in November to $48.5 million, or $37.4 million after promotional credits according to the state report. That led to a higher hold of 9.9% compared to 9.1% in October, which was also high for the state. PA sports betting‘s historic hold rate is 7.5%.

Sportsbooks paid $11.2 million in taxes thanks to Pennsylvania’s 36% effective tax rate. The market is now $15 million shy of paying $100 million in taxes since its November 2018 launch.

Pennsylvania could see another dip in handle for December as well since casinos closed last Saturday through Jan. 4 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Mobile accounts for the vast majority of business with 91% of all handle last month, but there was still $44.5 million bet at retail books in November.

Barstool lost ground in Pennsylvania sports betting market

Barstool Sportsbook was still comfortably the third-place operator in Pennsylvania with $57.8 million in bets. That accounted for 11.8% of market share, though, down from 12.1% in October.

Market leaders FanDuel Sportsbook ($180.1 million in handle, 36.6% share) and DraftKings Sportsbook ($112.5 million in handle, 22.9% share) also saw handle dip in November. DraftKings had a slight dip in share while FanDuel’s share rose about 1.4 percentage points.

Those types of fluctuations aren’t as big of a deal for DraftKings or FanDuel as they are for Barstool since it was only Barstool’s second full month of operations.

Penn National has repeatedly boasted about its lack of external marketing that led to a quick ramp-up for Barstool. CEO Jay Snowden echoed the sentiment again in the company’s third-quarter earnings call in October.

Barstool might have to rethink that approach after seeing November’s results. It’s a bit early in Barstool’s life for a backward slide, even without two key football games.

BetMGM adding to competition soon

Another sportsbook that would love to grab the third-place position from Barstool, BetMGM, is preparing for its Pennsylvania launch.

BetMGM, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Entain, launched iGaming in Pennsylvania earlier this month.

“This also lays the foundation for the launch of BetMGM’s sports betting offering, which will be available statewide in the coming weeks, pending necessary regulatory approvals,” the press release said.

Two land-based sportsbooks – Betfred at Wind Creek and a FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Pittsburgh – also launched last month.

Photo by Chris Szagola / The Associated Press
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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