Call it overambition or perhaps the law of diminishing returns. For whatever reason, it could be expected that Pennsylvania would not potentially keep up its record month to month pace for increasing sports wagering handle. After achieving an October state record, Pennsylvania saw a 6.4% decrease in November.
Still, an impressive $491.9 million in total handle, with bets placed both online and at retail books was recorded. A number down from October’s $525.8 million, according to state figures announced Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). The November 2020 handle was up 55.4% from November 2019’s $316.5 million.
Also putting an extra and frankly unfair asterisk on Pennsylvania’s November report were comparisons to neighboring state New Jersey’s November numbers. New Jersey announced a US record of $931.6 million on Monday, 16% higher than the previous mark it set in October.
It should be noted all US states operate under distinctly different legislative rules and cannot be accurately compared. Also, as more states roll-out during our infancy days of legalized iGaming and sports wagering, we can often expect to see new records both recorded and broken.
Land-based slots revenue accounted for the largest decrease, slumping 31.6% year-on-year to $129.5m while table games also fell a significant 30% to $52.3m as the state’s casinos continued to struggle due to COVID-19 along with state-ordered restrictions. The retail revenue slide is expected to continue into December’s numbers as well, following the second state-ordered medical shutdown last week. All indications point to affecting January as well.
As expected, involving the online casino side the news is more positive with reported revenue of $59.8 million during November, reflecting a new monthly record. Online slots contributed $39.4m, digital table games $18.4m, and PA’s only online poker operator, PokerStars adding $2.4m.
Continuing strong momentum from October, sports betting revenue hit a new record of $37.4m, approximately a half million higher than October’s mark of $36.8m. Mobile and desktop channels accounted for the largest share ($31.2m) of November’s betting revenue.
In Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge Casino in Philadelphia’s nearby Montgomery County led the way with online partner FanDuel posting $180m in handle, down $5m from October. On the western side of the state, the Meadows Casino along with partner DraftKings came in second with $112.5m, a drop-off from $123.4m in handle the previous month.
The two BetRivers casinos, Rivers Pittsburgh ($35m) and Rivers Philadelphia ($27.3m) combined to account for $62.3m, down approximately 10% from October figures. Penn National’s Hollywood Casino with their Barstool Sports brand posted $57.8m in total handle, reflecting a decrease from $63.8m posted in October.
Joining these operators shortly in the Keystone State is rising star BetMGM, which is planning to soft launch its sportsbook in the last two weeks of December. The news comes after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a wagering certificate for Penn National Gaming’s under construction satellite in Berks County, PA., in which BetMGM has plans to piggyback.
Earlier this month BetMGM began its Pennsylvania online casino and recently added a live dealer to its menu for players.
BetMGM is also achieving larger national attention through association with NFL teams. During November, the company announced they will be the official gaming partner of the popular Pittsburgh Steelers. Besides the Steelers, BetMGM also has linked deals with six NFL teams including the Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, and Detroit Lions.
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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.
Email: [email protected]
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