Pennsylvania Bounces Back for a Record Sports Wagering December
- PA rebounded from disappointing November achieving record handle & 11.5% increase
- Online was predictably dominant due to Gov. Wolf closing all casinos during the month
- Responsible gaming a priority with PA first US state to introduce PlayPause during December
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After experiencing a decline in total sports betting handle in November, Pennsylvania saw a huge increase in December. And its iGaming numbers easily set a monthly record.
The Keystone State reported a total handle of $548.6 million, reflecting an increase of 11.5% over November’s $491.9 million. The December 2020 handle was up an impressive 60.1% from December 2019’s $342.6 million. The monthly mark eclipse October’s then-record of $525.8 million.
Pennsylvania’s numbers often get compared to neighboring New Jersey; however, all US states cannot rightfully be judged in contrast due to different rules involving taxation, population, and various other factors. New Jersey made recent headlines of coming just short of $1 billion in handle with $996.3 million. Combining both NE states, they accounted for more than $1.5B in sports wagering handle in December.
Online the Dominant Force
It was no surprise that online casino gaming was dominant for the month with PA reaching a record gross revenue of $71.6 million in December. That smashed the previous high revenue figure for online gaming in October of $59.8 million. In comparison, December 2019 netted Pennsylvania $10.6 million in revenue.
As Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf continued restrictions upon retail onsite sportsbooks and casinos due to COVID-19, virtually all sports wagering was accomplished online. Gov. Wolf closed all casinos in the state between December 12 to January 4.
Mobile wagering accounted for 97.6% of the entire Pennsylvania market. The December online figures were up 19.6% from November’s totals and up a staggering 79.9% from December 2019.
Revenue numbers were a bit different and always more unpredictable to forecast for any state. Though handle was significantly up, revenue declined 8.8% in December. A total of $34.1 vs. $37.4 million in November.
By the Books
As expected, the leader among individual sportsbooks in Pennsylvania was Valley Forge Casino, located just north of Philadelphia, which along with online partner FanDuel posted $209.2 million in the handle. A figure up $29 million from last month’s $180 million.
The Meadows casino near Pittsburgh came in second, aligned with their partner DraftKings with $131.5 million, an increase from November’s total of $112.5 million. BetRivers entries from Rivers Pittsburgh and Rivers Philadelphia casinos combined for $50.6 million.
To keep a watch on, Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino in the Harrisburg, PA area with partner Barstool Sports showed a 25.6% increase. Jumping from $57.8 million to $72.8 million in December. Since first launching in September, Penn National and Barstool have increased both advertising and exposure. Their ranking will likely rise in Pennsylvania in 2021.
Debut for BetMGM
In becoming the 11th sportsbook app in the state, BetMGM first went live in Pennsylvania on December 18. BetMGM has a partnership with Hollywood Casino Morgantown in Caernarvon Township. Their “mini-casino” is currently under construction by Penn National Gaming. January will offer a full month of figures for online wagering.
Commenting on their new venture, Adam Greenblatt, BetMGM CEO said:
The response to BetMGM Casino in Pennsylvania has been incredible and we’re thrilled to bring our best-in-class sports betting offering to the Keystone State.
Responsible Gaming a PA Priority
Pennsylvania aims to be among states taking the lead targeting responsible gaming.
In December, the Pennsylvania Gaming Board announced it had agreed to partner with Conscious Gaming, a new non-profit organization established by GeoComplay to offer software “PlayPause” to PA players. PlayPause is an innovative self-exclusion tool for online gambling sites that limits sessions and helps reduce the risk for addiction.
In a press release, Pennsylvania said they were the first US state to introduce PlayPause and make it available to operators and regulators at no cost.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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