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Pennsylvania blames ESPN Bet for November betting revenue drop

| By Kyle Goldsmith
Pennsylvania has reported a 1.7% drop in revenue despite sports betting handle reaching $900m for the first time.
Pennsylvania November

The total revenue in Pennsylvania in November was $444.5m (£351.2m/€405.6m), down on the $452.4m reported the same month last year.

This was in spite of sports betting handle reaching $934.1m, smashing the previous record of $829m recorded in October of this year. Notably, November’s sports betting handle was 18.4% higher than the $789.2m accumulated in the same month last year.

ESPN Bet blamed for Pennsylvania’s sports betting revenue decrease

Despite the sizeable increase in handle, sports betting revenue fell to $12.9m in November from $52.9m in October, a 73% drop month-on-month.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board pointed to a low hold percentage, as well as the November launch of ESPN Bet, as reasons for the “steep drop in revenue”.

Operating under the Hollywood Casino at Penn National, ESPN Bet recorded a $7.8m loss, largely because of its “significant amount of non-taxable promotional play” as it looked to make its mark in Pennsylvania.

ESPN Bet, a product of a $1.5bn (£1.2bn/€1.4bn) deal earlier this year between Penn Entertainment and Disney-owned ESPN, launched across 17 states on 14 November.

FanDuel and DraftKings on top for sports betting

While ESPN Bet is still new to the market in Pennsylvania, perennial sports betting leaders FanDuel and DraftKings continue to dominate.

FanDuel, operating under the Valley Forge Casino Resort, recorded a state-leading $384.1m in sports wagering handle in November with $8.4m in total revenue.

DraftKings, meanwhile, lagged behind with a reported $253.1m in handle, although its total revenue of $7.9m was only around $500,000 behind FanDuel’s.

Parx Casino finished third for total sports betting revenue in the state in November, but its $1m fell well short of the numbers FanDuel and DraftKings were able to accumulate.

The growth of igaming in Pennsylvania

Despite the overall drop in revenue, igaming continues to prove successful in Pennsylvania, one of just seven states where it is currently legal.

In November, igaming accounted for $158m of revenue, a 22.8% increase on the same month last year. It was also 2.1% higher than the $154.8m recorded in October 2023.

In terms of igaming revenue, slots and tables were up 26.2% and 17.6% year-on-year respectively, although poker revenue was down 10.3% on November last year.

A new partnership, announced on Wednesday, will see Playtech slots and table games featured on Boyd Interactive’s Stardust-branded online casinos in Pennsylvania, as well as New Jersey. 

Pennsylvania’s increase in igaming revenue follows the trend of Michigan, one of the only other states to offer online gaming. Michigan’s commercial and tribal igaming operators generated record gross receipts of $175.3m in November, beating the previous record of $171.8m in March and $160.3m in October.

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