PA Online Sports Betting Off To A Solid Start, But Can It Mimic NJ Success?

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The introduction of online sports betting propelled the nascent Pennsylvania sports betting industry to its best month to date in June.

June saw total sports betting handle reach $46.3 million, with 40% of that revenue ($19.3 million) generated by the state’s three online operators.

That’s a solid start considering PlaySugarHouse was the only online sports betting operator taking bets throughout June. BetRivers and Parx were only open for about one week in June.

Not surprisingly, SugarHouse accounted for nearly 95% of all money wagered online in the state.

Pennsylvania sports betting topline numbers

PA online sports betting handle June 2019:

  • PlaySugarHouse: $18,170,689
  • BetRivers (launched June 27): $848,520
  • Parx (launched June 27): $307,011

Revenue followed suit, with SugarHouse accounting for the bulk of the state’s online sports betting revenue:

  • PlaySugarHouse: $1,310,926
  • BetRivers (launched June 27): $81,122
  • Parx (launched June 27): $46,645

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Can PA use NJ as a sign of things to come?

Pennsylvania‘s first month of online sports betting compares nicely with New Jersey.

New Jersey’s first full month of online sports betting occurred in August 2018. Like Pennsylvania, there was only a single online operator up and running for the entire month. Yet even with only one full-time operator (DraftKings), 23% of all sports betting handle was generated online.

If Pennsylvania continues to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps, the Keystone State will see its online sports betting handle increase dramatically, as high as 75-80% of all sports betting handle.

That said, there are several differences between the two markets that could result in Pennsylvania having a smaller percentage of sports betting wagers placed online.

Casino placement

Pennsylvania and New Jersey possess roughly one casino for every million residents. Pennsylvania has 12 casinos and New Jersey has nine. But that’s really the only similarity.

Pennsylvania placed casinos throughout the state, and where people are. New Jersey put its casinos where it wants people to go, all congregated in the tourism hub of Atlantic City.

That means that the average Pennsylvanian lives closer to a casino than the average New Jersean. As such, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the percentage of online sports betting is slightly lower in Pennsylvania.

The NYC situation

New Jersey’s online numbers are without question being enhanced by New York City residents making the short trip to Northern New Jersey to place legal online sports wagers.

Like New Jersey, Pennsylvania will benefit from several large border populations, but there’s only one New York City. So, until New York has mobile sports betting, NYC residents are going to continue to bet online in New Jersey and boost that state’s online numbers.

Tax and licensing burdens

One of the big unanswered questions in Pennsylvania is whether or not the onerous sports betting tax rates and licensing fees imposed by the state will impact the market.

It will be business as usual at retail sportsbooks, but the tax and licensing liabilities will almost certainly lead to less marketing and fewer promotions from Pennsylvania online. The result: less consumer awareness and a less competitive product that struggles to compete with offshore sportsbooks.

Steve Ruddock

About

Steve Ruddock is an avid poker player and a veteran member of the gaming media. His primary focus is on the regulated US online casino and poker markets. He writes for numerous online and print publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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