ennsylvania's sportsbooks and online casinos extended their momentum in January, opening 2021 with more than $600 million in monthly sports wagers for the first time while setting a fresh record for online casino revenue.
With the hot start, Pennsylvania's sportsbooks are on the path to bring nearly $6 billion in sports wagers in 2021 with the state's online casinos capable of reaching more than $800 million in taxable revenue, according to projections from PlayPennsylvania.
"A return to relatively normal — with a healthy retail market and a dependable sports schedule — would be enough to fuel growth in Pennsylvania's gaming industry," said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. "There are a lot of positive signs right now as sportsbooks and online casinos continue to gain steam, and hopefully, the state's brick-and-mortar casinos begin to regain their footing. If things do return to normal, the gaming industry should see significant gains across the board in 2021."
Pennsylvania's online and retail sportsbooks took yet another leap forward in January with $615.3 million in bets in January, according to official data released Wednesday. That was up 76.6% from $348.4 million in January 2020 and topped the record $548.6 million in wagers set in December.
Those bets produced $34 million in taxable revenue, up 49.1% from $22.8 million in January 2020. That yielded $11.5 million in state taxes and $679,408 in local share assessments. Since launching in November 2018, Pennsylvania sportsbooks have generated $111.7 million in taxes.
"Pennsylvania's tax structure did slow down the early progress of the industry, but the high tax rate no longer appears to be much of an impediment," said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. "Operators have flocked to the state and produced millions in revenue. In that way, regulators achieved their goal of creating a reliable revenue producer for the state, and that could attract attention from other states as they work to set up legal sports betting."
Online betting produced 94.3% of January's handle. FanDuel Sportsbook/Valley Forge Casino topped the market again with $220.7 million in online bets, up from $207.6 million in December.
Retail sportsbooks, which reopened on Jan. 4, bounced back from a rough December with a $35.4 million handle, winning $4 million.
"Casino closures have certainly spurred online casinos and online sportsbook betting, which will provide some long-term benefits for the industry," Gouker said. "But for the state's gaming industry to truly be healthy, it needs to see a full recovery with retail betting. If the pandemic continues to recede, that return to health could happen by the second half of 2021."
Online casinos and poker
Online casinos and poker rooms continued their momentum with a record $80.4 million in January revenue, up from $71.6 million in December.
Online casinos took in $2.6 million per day over the month's 31 days, up from $2.3 million per day over the 31 days in December. That revenue generated $17.3 million in state taxes and another $10.2 million in local share assessments and county grants.
"With retail casinos closed, December's record could have been an outlier," Cross said. "But January's results prove that the gains made last month are more than resilient. Such a strong start to the year could mean a year with more than $800 million in online casino revenue, which would be huge for the state."