As Sportsbook Slumps NFL and Operators Partner for Coming Season

Pennsylvania–along with other states across the country where sports betting is legalized–has reported a months-long sports betting revenue decrease. August is the second month in a row where PA sportsbooks are feeling the summer slowdown. The upcoming NFL season is predicted to kickstart the fall and winter sports block for operators, so they’re betting on collaborations with teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why the Slump?

In May, there was a reported 6% decrease in handle from the state Gaming Control Board. Now, Pennsylvania is coming in 4th in the nation in terms of handle decline and 11th in revenue decrease. This slump was expected, and experts say it’s a tale of decline as old as time.

Jessica Welman, an analyst for PlayUSA.com, says, “Bettors simply check out in July when summer vacations and other pursuits take precedence. But a surge in betting will certainly come with the beginning of the football season.” So summer downtime may just, historically, see less sports betting and real money casinos and more outdoor activities and vacationing.

A Particularly Slow Year

Some speculators anticipated more participation in sports betting over the summer because of the Olympics and late NBA Finals, but Eric Ramsey, another analyst at PlayUSA.com, may have an explanation for why those weren’t enough to tip the balance.

“Mainstream sports such as basketball and golf, along with a handful of high-profile events, have drawn the most Olympics interest,” Ramsey says. “But there was no wave of action from the Olympics. Bettors aren’t as comfortable wagering on Olympic events. And partly it’s because betting on many high-profile events in swimming and gymnastics, which took center stage in the early part of the Olympics, were barred because minors were competing.”

Short-term Fixes

In the meantime, operators are pushing incentives and trying to make up lost revenue however they can. Just like online sites that want to draw in players with casino bonus codes, sportsbook operators will also offer promo codes and sweepstakes contests. This can help engagement and overall revenue, but because promotions are tax-deductible the state often doesn’t see the benefit from that revenue.

FanDuel was the sportsbook operator to come out on top over the summer, with a $160.9 million handle and $14.2 million in revenues. DraftKings followed them up, at about a $10.3 million difference in revenue. Barstool Sports and BetMGM came up third and fourth respectively. Then BetRivers, Parx, Fox Bet, Unibet, Caesars, and Twin Spires.

Unibet Betting on the Steelers

In preparation for the NFL season, the Kindred Group’s sportsbook brand Unibet is partnering with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The majority of sports wagering happens online at 91%, so they are focusing on social media outreach in addition to bringing a unique fan experience at home and the stadium. For example, on game days, there will be a Unibet Tailgate Zone at the stadium where fans can meet with their favorite Steelers Legends.

SVP, US Kindred Group Manuel Stan, commented on the partnership, saying, “This is an exciting step in Western Pennsylvania for us. With this partnership, we will continue to grow our share of voice in Pennsylvania, strengthen our connection to local fans, and support future launches in neighboring states.”

Everyone’s a Winner

Meanwhile, in Texas, Caesars Entertainment has struck a deal with the Houston Texans. Also focusing on unique fan experiences, there are plenty of online free-to-play games associated with the operator where participants can win game tickets, a trip to Caesar’s properties, or even all-inclusive trips to Las Vegas.

Texans President Greg Grissom spoke about the partnership, saying, “We have some great events lined up for this upcoming season that fans will not want to miss, and this partnership with Caesars is just another example of how we continue to look for ways to enhance the experience.”


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