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Pennsylvania Sportsbooks Keep Handle Near Highs with $750 Million in December

With a record-shattering $127.6 million in online casino revenue in December, too, the month closed a year that brought more than $6.5 billion in sports wagers, a U.S.-best

Pennsylvania Sportsbooks Keep Handle Near Highs with $750 Million in December
Pennsylvania Sportsbooks Keep Handle Near Highs with $750 Million in December

Betting volume at Pennsylvania's online and retail sportsbooks remained near all-time highs in December with more than $750 million in wagers as revenue slipped from November's record. With a record-shattering $127.6 million in online casino revenue in December, too, the month closed a year that brought more than $6.5 billion in sports wagers, a U.S.-best $122.5 million in tax revenue from sports betting, and nearly $1.3 billion in online casino revenue, according to PlayPennsylvania, which tracks regulated online gaming and sports betting in the state.

"With so many records set this fall, a modest pullback in December is not a particular surprise," said Katie Kohler, an analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com.

"Importantly, though, sportsbooks remained near all-time highs for wagering, extending a four-month stretch in which wagering reached nearly $3 million. It's been a fitting end to an impressive year."

In December, Pennsylvania's sportsbooks accepted $750.4 million in wagers, which was up 36.8% from $548.6 million in December 2020, according to official data released Wednesday. December's betting volume was the third-most ever.

A month after gross revenue spiked to $84.9 million, bettors won at a far higher rate in December. That created $38.0 million in gross revenue for sportsbooks, down 16.3% from $45.3 million in December's 2020. After $19.1 million in promotional spending, sportsbooks closed the month with $18.8 million in taxable revenue, yielding $6.8 million in state taxes and local share assessments.

Wagering nearly doubled in 2021, and no state wrung more tax revenue out of its sports betting industry than Pennsylvania. At the same time, the Keystone State has been surpassed in overall handle by Illinois, which is almost identical in population. 

For the year, Pennsylvania's retail and online sportsbooks produced:

  • *$6.5 billion in wagers, up 83.0% from $3.6 billion in 2020. 
  • *$505.5 million in gross revenue, up 87.3% from $269.9 million in 2020. 
  • *$122.5 million in state taxes and local share assessments, up 79.4% from $68.3 million in 2020

"If the carrot for legislators to legalize sports betting is to create a sustainable and consistent revenue source for the state, no state has been more successful than Pennsylvania," said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayPennsylvania.com.

"Pennsylvania's relatively high tax rate does seem to contribute to slower growth overall, but that seems to be a worthwhile tradeoff that has been an overall benefit to the state." 

In December, online sportsbooks took in $693.3 million in wagers, or 92.4% of the state's handle. FanDuel topped the online market with $246.8 million in wagers, or 32.9% of the state's online market. 

"With college football winding down in December, betting on NBA and college basketball made up the difference," Kohler said. "Basketball betting quietly has become an important cog for sportsbooks, especially in the Northeast where basketball takes in more in wagering than football, even as football gains the most attention."

Online casinos and poker 

Online casinos and poker rooms produced a record $127.6 million in gross gaming revenue in December, topping the previous best of $117.0 million reached in October. Revenue was up 17.6% from $108.5 million in December 2020.

Online casino games and poker produced $102.1 million in taxable revenue, which yielded $42.5 million in state taxes and local assessments. Wagering at online casinos rose to $4.3 billion from $3.8 billion in November. 

For the year, Pennsylvania's online casinos generated: 

  • *$1.3 million in gross revenue from online casino games and poker rooms, up 91.1% from $680.2 million in 2020. 
  • *$466.4 million in state taxes.

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