The state of Pennsylvania continues to cement its status as one of the most successful bet-friendly states in the US despite a few early predictions to the contrary. It was thought that high taxes would hinder Pennsylvania’s progress but it turns out that they did not keep Pennsylvanians from wagering or providers from opening shop in 2019. An estimated $1.5 billion was taken in by casinos last year, thanks to a healthy $342.6 million in December – up 8.2% from November.
Most analysts suggest that a bigger haul is coming for Pennsylvania in 2020 with a full year of legalized gambling under their belts and with a vast array of quality providers competing for Pennsylvanian's gambling dollars. Analysts from PlayPennsylvania expect the handle to double in 2020.
There's no secret to Pennsylvania's success
To nobody's surprise, it has been the strong mobile betting platform that has driven Pennsylvania's strong sports betting numbers so far. Of the $1.5 billion 2019 handle, $1.1 billion or 84% came via mobile betting sites. Of the $342 million handle in December, $297.5 million or nearly 87% came over the internet. Pennsylvania's mobile betting only started in May 2019 and wasn't really a factor until June, meaning that there is still some room for growth going forward.
Some of the biggest mobile players currently operating in Pennsylvania are relatively new to the state, so it stands to reason that their numbers should increase as they become more acclimated to the market. Some of the major providers in the state haven't even gone live with their mobile platforms yet.
One industry heavyweight recently set up shop in Pennsylvania and saw their handle double in just one month. Another, FanDuel, currently leads the way in Pennsylvania with $154.5 million in bets during December (over half of the overall Pennsylvania handle for the month) and should give present and future operators in Pennsylvania a glimpse of the potential in the state.
Competition breeds success
Seemingly every major sports betting operator has landed in Pennsylvania which is good for the state and good for the customer. By the end of 2019, there were eight online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, up from five at the end of October and seven at the end of November.
FanDuel was the biggest player with Rush Street's BetRivers a distant second in Pennsylvania. Other sportsbooks such as Penn National, Kindred‘s Unibet, Fox Bet, and BetAmerica, operated by Churchill Downs at its Presque Isle casino are all present in Pennsylvania and will all continue to chase their piece of what looks as though it is going to be a rather impressive pie.
The real winner in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's tax rate for online sports gambling sits at a whopping 36% which at first looked like it would be a deterrent to mobile providers. Online slots in the state are taxed at an incredible 54%. But the taxes certainly haven't scared away gambling providers and the tax dollars collected have benefitted Pennsylvania greatly.
Pennsylvania state and local coffers have seen an influx of cash to be used in a variety of programs in the state that had previously been a major drain on the budget. In December alone, the state received $3.9 million in taxes off the $20.6 million in revenues. The amount of tax revenue for all of 2019 is expected to come in around $64.9 million, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Pennsylvania, with its high tax rate, its focus on mobile betting options, its huge variety of online gambling providers and ultimately its overwhelming success could be a model for future states that hope to welcome in a legalized gambling platform. With few missteps, if any, Pennsylvania should continue to roll toward some record handles in 2020.