April’s handle $300 million short of what would have been expected, according to PlayPennsylvania
LAS VEGAS — Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks generated just a fraction of the bets that they would have expected during a normal April, while online casinos and poker rooms smashed their revenue record with $43.1 million. That divergent path—which includes an estimated loss of more than $300 million in sports bets, according to PlayPennsylvania estimates—will continue as long as most major sports and the state’s land-based casinos remain closed.
“The growth in online gambling as well as betting on non-traditional sports are industry bright spots,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “But there just isn’t any way for Pennsylvania operators to compensate for such a dramatic loss of revenue, including at retail sportsbooks and land-based casinos, which can’t generate a single dollar right now.”
During a month in which PlayPennsylvania.com would have estimated a handle of nearly $350 million, Pennsylvania sportsbooks generated just $46 million in wagers, according to official data released Monday. That is down from $131.3 million in March, though up slightly from $36.8 million in April 2019, before online sports betting launched.
Sportsbooks yielded $3.2 million in gross revenue, up from $8.6 million in March. The win resulted in $988,255 in state taxes.
Before the COVID-19 shutdowns, Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks had grown from a 2019 low handle of $31.5 million to a record of $348.4 million in January 2020.
“The momentum that brought records month after month for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks has been reversed almost instantly,” said Valerie Cross, an analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Until sports leagues figure out a way to reopen, these dreary results will continue.”
With retail sportsbooks shuttered in April—potentially losing out on some $35 million of in-person bets—online sportsbooks generated Pennsylvania’s entire handle. FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino led the market in April with $19 million in April wagers, down from $53.7 million in March. That yielded $1.3 million in taxable revenue, down from $2.8 million in March. FanDuel was followed by:
- DraftKings at The Meadows ($12.6 million handle, down from $28.6 million; $706,589 taxable revenue, down from $1.5 million)
- Rivers-Philadelphia ($5.9 million handle, down from $12 million; $309,551 revenue, down from $601,984)
- Fox Bet at Mount Airy ($3.7 million handle, down from $6.1 million; $229,469 revenue, up from $159,013)
- Rivers-Pittsburgh ($2.4 million handle, down from $8.2 million; $190,013 revenue, down from $535,860)
- Parx Casino ($2.2 million handle, down from $7.9 million; $193,662 revenue, down from $618,159)
- Unibet at Mohegan Sun Pocono ($92,521 handle, down from $1.2 million; $14,362 revenue, down from $19,750)
- Presque Isle Downs ($97,107 handle, down from $483,429; -$4,066 revenue, down from $23,905)
- Harrah’s ($28,155 handle, down from $139,790; -$557 revenue, up from -$18,075)
Limited to futures betting and action on nontraditional sports, Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks are arguably faring better than might have been predicted. And sportsbooks could be getting some help from more mainstream sports soon, with auto racing restarting, golf planning on teeing off in the coming weeks, and Major League Baseball inching closer.
“A $46 million handle with such limited options in terms of sports is a surprise,” Gouker said. “April could potentially be the statistical low point, but there is so much that can happen that the immediate future is impossible to predict. That is a bit disconcerting for operators.”
Online casinos and poker boom
Online casinos and poker rooms brought good news for the industry, combining to generate a whopping $43.1 million in April revenue. That was up 77.4% from the record $24.3 million in March and 121% over February’s $19.5 million. As many of Pennsylvania’s gamblers stayed home and land-based casinos remained closed, casinos and poker revenue hit $1.4 million per day in the 30 days of April, up from $782,768 per day in March.
Online table games and slots generated $1.4 billion in wagers, up from $871.6 million, producing $37.8 million in revenue. Mount Airy/PokerStars—the Keystone State’s only online poker room—generated a record $5.3 million in revenue, beating March’s $3.1 million and edging New Jersey for the online poker revenue record for any state.
As welcome as the rise in online gambling revenue has been, it can’t nearly make up for the lost revenue from land-based casinos. The $23.6 million revenue difference between April and February, represents just 8.5% of the $277.8 million on slot machines and table games revenue generated by land-based casinos in April 2019.
“There will likely be long-term implications from this surge in online gambling interest. A behavioral shift that makes online gambling permanently more popular is likely to continue even after casinos reopen,” Cross said. “But the reality is that despite the gains made at online casinos, the closing of land-based casinos left a revenue hole that can’t be made up.”
Rivers-Philadelphia led the online casino market with $13.7 million in revenue on $477 million in wagers, up from $6.8 million in revenue on $293.2 million in wagers in March. FanDuel/Valley Forge Casino was second with $7.9 million in online revenue on $320.8 million in wagers, up from $5 million in revenue on $250.6 million in wagers in March.
In addition, the number of online casinos in Pennsylvania grew to 10 with the launch of Caesars in April and DraftKings in early May, expanding the FanDuel-DraftKings rivalry beyond sports betting.
“The competition between FanDuel and DraftKings has been a force for innovation in sports betting markets across the country, and we expect that will transfer well to their online gambling products,” Gouker said.
For more information on the revenue generated by Pennsylvania, visit www.playpennsylvania.com/revenue.