The COVID-19 pandemic ran wild on the United States of America over the last few months, destroying businesses and industries that may never recover. However, it has been nice to see professional sports back in action, leading to many sports-starved fans wagering on these games.
Pennsylvania was coming into its own as a dominant force in the sports betting industry before the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, the state is showing just how much its residents missed taking part in America’s newest craze.
The Return of Sports
Sports betting revenue was up 22% from June. Of course, the return of the NBA, NHL, and MLB made things easier to get to that point. Online betting was also a major factor during this time, where we are all supposed to be social distancing. For July, online betting accounted for 94.3% of the handle, while about 84% of the sports betting revenue was generated online.
“The return of baseball and the NBA were seminal moments for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks, obviously,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “There is no making up for what was lost during the shutdowns. But with online casinos sustaining incredible growth, major sports back in play, and retail casinos gradually reopening, the industry is thankfully moving forward.”
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported a total gaming revenue of $283 million in July, up from $281.5 million a year ago – a 0.5% year-on-year increase, which is mainly because it was the first time since the coronavirus outbreak that the state’s 12 casinos/sportsbooks were in operation.
There was a total of $164,782,229 wagered in July, compared to $89,002,562 in June, when the casinos finally started to open back up. In comparison, neighboring New Jersey nearly doubled Pennsylvania in betting handle at $315,118,805.
Gross revenue was a pleasant sight as well, going from $6.7 million to $8.1 – a 22.3% increase in June. Not to mention, the profits were up a whopping 185.7% from July of last year.
“Even just over a week of baseball and a few days of the NBA was enough to unleash pent-up demand for wagering on major sports,” Gouker added. “August should be a huge month, with NBA and NHL playoffs drawing bets that aren’t typical in the late summer. That should help Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks make up a little of the revenue lost this spring.”
The retail aspect of sports betting took a big hit during social distancing, taking in $9.4 million in bets there. The sportsbook gained $1.3 million on those bets after losing just under $100,000 in June.
FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino remained the predominant leader in the clubhouse, taking in about $69 million in online bets, which doubled the amount from just under $33 million in June.
“The key for sports betting going forward is obviously the health of the various major sports leagues in the US,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “We saw with the Phillies that the pandemic can abruptly alter the sporting landscape. And with college football in jeopardy this fall, and the NFL still working through its plans, the fall remains quite uncertain.”
Pro Sports in PA
The Keystone State is going to do just fine going forward, considering the vast wealth of professional sports in the area – the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates, NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Unfortunately, the state could take a hit with the loss of college football in the fall. In our opinion, that’s OK – that just means more money to put on professional sports.