Heavyweight Pennsylvania Latest to See August Sports Betting Surge
Heavyweight Pennsylvania Latest to See August Sports Betting Surge
Heinz Field on September 19, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images/AFP

An August turnaround for the US legal sports betting industry has become a theme for the jurisdictions that have reported so far. After seemingly bottoming out in July, sportsbooks around the country seem to have snapped a seasonal summer sports betting slump and are seeing nice increases in August’s figures, right before an expected explosion of sportsbook activity in September.

A turnaround for the sports betting industry wasn’t widely expected until the fall, making August’s spikes are a nice surprise for the industry on the whole. September is expected to be the start of an immense jump in wagering activity across the nation and is expected to dwarf the impressive increases experienced so far in August.

“August’s sports schedule is still relatively light compared with the fall, so it is welcome to see betting volume move off the low we saw in July,” said Valerie Cross, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “The next four months is the most important stretch of the year for sportsbooks, though, and every sign points toward a stretch of widespread growth.”

Pennsylvania’s August Numbers

Pennsylvania was able to snap a four-month streak of declining handles in August with a long-awaited 14.5% month-to-month increase in overall sports betting activity from July to August. Bettors dropped $348.5 million at the state’s sportsbooks in August, up nearly $45 million from the $304.4 million in July.

The figures, although encouraging, are still 4.5% lower than the $365 million the state’s sportsbooks saw in August 2020.

Pennsylvania’s mobile handle also saw a nice month-to-month increase. $318.1 million of the overall $348.5 million came from online betting which represents 91.3% of the total. That’s up 15.5% from July’s $275.4 million but down 1.1% from August 2020’s $321.6 million.

It isn’t all great news for the Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene, however. Revenues for the platform dropped for the second straight month. Profits from sports betting fell 9.3% to $18 million, from the $19.9 million seen in July. It is a trend that must turn around and will most certainly do as we head deeper into September.

$6.1 million in taxes was collected for state and local coffers from the state’s sportsbook profits.

Pennsylvania’s August figures proved once again that just the anticipation of a football season can bring with it an increase in overall betting activity. The talk of football and the smattering of preseason games in August is being credited with helping Pennsylvania’s sports betting scene out of its slumber.

“An inglorious exit from the NBA playoffs, the struggles of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the inconsistency of the Phillies, conspired to make this a relatively slow summer for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayPennsylvania.com. “It took just a handful of games in August to show how important football is to the sports-betting industry.”

Records About to be Broken

With the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers off and running as well as the host of elite college football programs in Pennsylvania, sports betting records in Pennsylvania are definitely in jeopardy. August saw a 14.5% month-to-month increase. September’s percentage climb is expected to be much larger than that.

Expect handle records to fall before the end of 2021 and revenues to set new standards going forward. Christmas for the Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene has officially begun and is a six-month affair that will last into February.

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