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Pennsylvania Latest to Report May Mixed Bag

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Pennsylvania Latest to Report May Mixed Bag
Citizens Bank Park on June 8, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/AFP

The May sports betting numbers from participating jurisdictions across the US continue to baffle analysts with major inconsistencies from state to state. Smack in the middle of what most are expecting to be a tangible drop-off in legal sports betting activity, there are some states that have reported handle increases… and others that have reported month-to-month declines with regard to their sports betting scenes.

The latest state to report is Pennsylvania which joins Michigan as a state that posted a handle-drop in May. Their results are opposite of other top-tier jurisdictions like Indiana and New Jersey, which saw slight increases in their sports betting activity.

It isn’t all bad news, however. Pennsylvania did post gains in a few metrics in May.

Taking a Look

As mentioned, Pennsylvania posted a slight drop in its month-to-month handle from April to May. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported a $447.5 million handle for its state’s sportsbooks in May – a 6.7% drop from the $479.4 million taken in during April. It represents a nearly $170 million slide from the record $615.3 million record from January.

As mentioned, it isn’t all bad news. Sports betting revenues actually increased in May thanks to a rise in the overall hold for sportsbooks that came in at 8.4% in May. Pennsylvania sportsbooks made $27.7 million in May, compared to $26.3 million in April.

State and local tax coffers benefitted to the tune of about $10 million from the sports betting profits.

A Deeper Dive

Once again Pennsylvania’s mobile wagering scene dominated the overall handle. About 91% of all wagers placed in Pennsylvania from May came from mobile apps – that’s $407.2 million of the overall $447.5 million handle. That number represents a slight 6.7% drop from the $479.4 million in April.

Year-over-year growth of the Pennsylvania scene was identified in the May sports betting report. The spikes were substantial, largely because of the state of the world in May 2020 when COVID-19 had its grip on the entire global society.

Pennsylvania’s year-over-year handle increase was 477.3%, from $77.5 million in May 2020 to $447.4 million in May 2021. Revenues spiked 474.6% over that span from $4.8 million in May 2020 to $27.7 million just last month.

Online Casino Domination

Sports betting numbers are only a part of the overall Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene. Online casinos have become increasingly crucial to the overall wagering scene in the state, prompting one analyst to call the platform the “state’s most dependable gaming revenue generator.”

Online casinos produced $110.8 million in gross gaming revenues in May which is impressive indeed and just slightly off the record $111.6 million from March.

Bettors in Pennsylvania spent a total of $3.3 billion at online casinos in May, which generated an astounding $41.7 million for state and local coffers.

“Online casino revenue continues to dwarf revenue from sports betting, and that gap should only grow over the summer months,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Even as customers return to brick-and-mortar casinos, the gains in revenue at online casinos and poker rooms made over the last year should hold. It has become a revenue-generating powerhouse for the gaming industry and for the state.”

What’s to Come

Pennsylvania is expected to continue its summer betting slump despite the NBA and NHL playoffs stretching deeper into the summer and the Olympics and Euro 2020 being on the wagering menu. The Keystone State will be looking toward September when the NFL season kicks off.

“The seasonal slowdown will continue to be a factor until bettors can place bets on Eagles, Steelers, and Penn State football games,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylania.com.

Pennsylvania has been a reliable market and will conclude its fiscal year at the end of June having taken in more that $5 billion in bets in the first 11 months. So, while a summer downturn is a reality in the state, it is pretty hard to underestimate just how strong the Pennsylvania market has been. Their status as an elite betting state is cemented at this point in time, and with the retail sector of the industry ready to explode, the sky is the limit for the Pennsylvania scene.

Dustin Gouker said as much when he commented that: “The retail market is returning to relative health. What we’re really seeing in Pennsylvania, as well as other markets, is normalization. Nothing could be more welcome after such a difficult year.”