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It’s Pennsylvania’s Turn to Boast About October Sports Betting Haul

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

October is turning out to be a banner month in the U.S. legal sports betting industry. State after state have come out with their record-setting figures from October. All that have reported so far have set new high-water marks with respect to their sports betting scenes thanks to five full weeks of NFL and college football and the start of the NBA and NHL seasons.

Pennsylvania, one of the true heavyweights in the U.S. legal sports betting industry and one of the most reliable jurisdictions in the country, is out with its October numbers and, unsurprisingly, they are staggering. While nowhere near New Jersey’s $1.303-billion October handle, Pennsylvania has settled in as the second-most successful state with Nevada’s anticipated October figures likely to eventually bump them out of that spot.

“The convergence of all that betting inventory, particularly with five weekends of football, made a record in October all but assured,” said Katie Kohler, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Such a big leap in October shows that Pennsylvania still has an increasing base of bettors, and those bettors are placing more in wagers as they become increasingly comfortable with in-game and proposition betting.”

Checking out the staggering numbers

Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks took in a record $776.3 million in bets during October. That’s up 34.1 percent from September’s $578.8 million and is more than $160 million, or 26.2 percent, higher than the state’s previous record of $615.3 million from January 2021. The $776.3 million represents a 47.6-percent year-over-year spike from October 2020’s $525.8 million.

Pennsylvania’s sports betting apps contributed $714.1 million or 92 percent of the overall sports betting handle – also a record for the state. Retail contributed about $62.2 million toward the overall October handle, also a double-digit month-over-month rise.

Unfortunately for the state’s sportsbooks, revenues from the record handle didn’t translate to record monthly profits. A relatively low 5.4 percent hold rate saw gross revenues come in at $42.3 million – a month-over-month 12.1 percent drop from the $48.1 million in revenues reported in September.

The $42.3 million in gross revenue is still a ways off the record $49.3 million in revenues generated by Pennsylvania sportsbooks in January 2021. A total $8.5 million in tax revenue for state and local coffers was generated in Pennsylvania thanks to the nation’s highest sports betting tax rate of 36 percent.

Happy birthday surprise

Pennsylvania marked its third legal sports betting anniversary with October’s record handle. Looking back on three solid years of operation has revealed incredible lifetime numbers for the state’s legal sports betting industry. Only New Jersey and Nevada have been more successful over that time.

All together, Pennsylvania sportsbooks have taken in $10.1 billion in bets in three years of operation, reported $766.8 million in gross revenue, and contributed $192.2 million in state taxes, most of which has come this year alone.

“Three years in, and the state’s sportsbooks continue to expand,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayPennsylvania.com. “Remarkably, about half of all wagers and revenue have come through sportsbooks in the last 10 months. Pennsylvania clearly has room to grow before it reaches its ceiling.”

Joining the others

It is no shock that Pennsylvania was able to generate its highest legal sports betting handle ever in October. All states that have reported so far have set new standards for their legal sports betting scenes.

Pennsylvania joins Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Washington D.C., and New Jersey as states with new high-water marks with respect to the overall betting activity in their states. November could eclipse even those numbers thanks to the start of the college basketball season.

Expect the Pennsylvania scene to maintain its incredible momentum through March and the NCAA tournament. Will more records fall? It is hard to tell, but the smart money is on the continued acceleration of Pennsylvania’s sports betting industry throughout the winter and into the spring.