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Pennsylvania Bucks National Handle Increase Trend

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Pennsylvania Bucks National Handle Increase Trend
Bettors place wagers Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP

The November legal sports betting numbers for the state of Pennsylvania are in. For those that were expecting the state to follow the record-handle trend, the figures represent a bit of a disappointment and perhaps a bit of a red-flag going forward.

Pennsylvania’s sports betting handle actually dropped from October to November and interrupted a string of record-sports betting months for the state. While concerning, there were a number of factors that could have led to the slight letdown in November’s haul. Revenues and the tax-contribution spinoff on the other hand didn’t disappoint and actually increased in November.

Let’s break it down.

November Slump

November’s sports betting handle for Pennsylvania came in a $491.9 million from the state’s retail and mobile betting outlets. It represents a 6.4% decrease from the record-total taken in during October when Pennsylvania sportsbooks saw $525.8 million in bets, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

The online output of the Pennsylvania sports betting scene was also caught up in the overall handle decline. Mobile apps were responsible for a still-impressive $447.4 million, or 91% of Pennsylvania’s November haul but that number is down 5.3% from October’s $472.3 million take.

Now for Some Increases

It wasn’t all bad news for the Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene. Revenues off of the overall handle jumped a modest 1.6% to $48.5 million, or $37.4 million after promotional credits, from $36.777 million in October.

The hold rate in November grew from 9.1% in October to a record-9.9% in November and thanks to Pennsylvania’s high tax rate. Off of that, the state collected $12.7 million from sports betting taxes in November 2020, with another $747,005 for local taxes for a total tax contribution of $13.4 million.

Year-Over-Year Spikes

Year-over-year, the November, 2020 handle showed an impressive increase, despite slumping a tad month-to-month. The November 2020 handle of $491.9 million jumped 55.4% from November 2019’s $316.5 million.

The November, 2020 mobile take also showed a significant rise. In November, 2019, Pennsylvania mobile sportsbooks took in about $266.7 million. 2020’s $447.4 million mobile sports betting handle represents a 67.7% increase.

Taxable revenues for the state also saw a year-over-year spike in November. November 2019 generated $14.7 million in overall revenues, 153.7% lower than the $37.4 million in November, 2020.

Possible Reasons for the Dip

The NFL, the biggest handle generator for the state of Pennsylvania went through some ebb-and-flows during the month of November, specifically with Pennsylvania teams. The beloved Eagles had their bye-week in November and the much-anticipated Thanksgiving game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was forced to be rescheduled to December due to ongoing COVID-19 issues. That is two critical NFL weekends that were affected greatly by the lack of a Pennsylvania team on the field. College Football also had their share of COVID-19 related cancellations in November which affected its sportsbooks bottom line.

All of the major sportsbooks in the state showed slight declines which contributed to the dip. The two National DFS giants combined for a 1.4% drop and Barstool Sports saw a decline in their traffic as well, to the surprise of many. Barstool‘s slide was unforeseen and an eye-opening sign for the most anticipated new sportsbook in the Nation.

The nearly $10 million drop in overall handle and nearly $24 million in mobile haul could also be due to a lack of disposable income for the citizens of Pennsylvania. COVID-19 continues to plague the Pennsylvania economy and ultimately the legal betting scene’s bottom line.

Looking Ahead to December’s Possible Numbers

There are some definite warning signs for the Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene heading into December. Firstly, any retail contributions have been put on hold again with the latest COVID-19 restrictions that have been announced for the state. Casinos in the state aren’t scheduled to re-open until January 4. It is a good thing for Pennsylvania’s robust mobile betting platform.

Pennsylvania, despite a bit of a disappointing November, is preparing to welcome another huge name to their legal sports betting family. BetMGM is scheduled to go live in the state in December to challenge the current “top 3”. Hopes are that BetMGM‘s profile will be a catalyst to higher output by all of Pennsylvania’s participating sportsbooks.

Overall

Overall, the Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene has been impressive – perhaps a slump was inevitable. Despite the red flags caused by the slight drop in the overall handle, the $492 million November handle was still the second-largest in Pennsylvania history. So far in this fiscal year, Pennsylvania has eclipsed the $2 billion mark for handle.

The state of Pennsylvania has come a long way in the 25 months since legal sports betting went live in 2018. The 2018-19 fiscal year generated $244.6 million, 2019-20 fiscal year saw $2.5 billion in bets take in and in 2020-21, $2 billion has already been generated in just five months.

Pennsylvania maintains its status as the third best bet-friendly state in the US – fourth place isn’t close. While a dip in handle may have been inevitable, it shouldn’t be long-lasting. Translations – we need not worry about the Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene. It is healthy and it is robust as we close ou