Gambling in Pennsylvania, like most of the rest of the United States, has exploded in recent years. Since the first legal sports bet was placed in the State in October of 2018, the industry has made a lot of moves in Pennsylvania, and it will continue to grow. Pennsylvania sports betting has become a massive industry, with the summer of 2019 being the turning point in the state. From June to September of that year, five sports betting apps launched and now two years later, there are thirteen online sportsbooks in the state and mobile sports betting is by far the overwhelming preference with about 90% of wagers placed online. In September of this year, Pennsylvania sports betting brought in $578,760,746, which was up 66.1% from the $348,520,369 in August and up 25.1% from September 2020 ($462,787,392). Then in October, Pennsylvania hit a record handle of a massive $776.3 million, this was +47.6% over October 2020’s $525.8 million, showing that it is trending upwards year-on-year. Through October 2021 all forms of legal, regulated gambling in PA generated nearly $4 billion in gross gaming revenue.
In April 2021, the NFL named Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel as its first US sports betting partners, in a deal that will earn the league $1 billion. After the announcement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on CNBC and said: “I think it’s great for our fans, and it’ll be great for the NFL ultimately and our partners, because what it will do is create more engagement. It will be somewhat like what fantasy football was for us in the ’90s and has been over the last several decades, but this will be an even more immersive experience.”
The growth of sportsbook betting in the state has been huge for two of Pennsylvania’s two NFL teams, the Eagles and the Steelers. DraftKings signed an exclusive deal to get naming rights to the field club at Lincoln Financial Field. After the deal was announced, Ezra Kucharz, DraftKings’ chief business officer said: “Philadelphia is home to some of the most passionate football fans, and we could not be more excited to join forces with the Eagles. Be it fans at home, on the DraftKings mobile app or inside Lincoln Financial Field, we look forward to introducing Eagles fans and DraftKings customers alike to an all-encompassing DraftKings experience.”
In August, the Steelers signed a deal with Unibet to become the official sportsbook partner with the Pittsburgh based franchise. Ryan Huzjak, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Steelers said: “We are excited to welcome Unibet to the Steelers family. This partnership will provide brand new opportunities for Steelers Nation, both on gamedays at Heinz Field and throughout the season. We are looking forward to bringing these enhancements to our fans.”
It’s not just Pennsylvania’s NFL teams that have benefited from sportsbook partnerships, as the Philadelphia 76ers have signed a partnership with Betway in October of this year. The logo of the betting company is now displayed during regular-season home games of the team on TV, and there is also signage throughout the team’s The Center Arena. Additionally, courtside LEDs, basket stanchion LEDs and team bench aprons display Betway signage during the games. The Sixers also have partnerships with BetMGM and DraftKings.
In November 2021, the NBA announced that DraftKings and FanDuel would become the league’s co-official sports betting partners, For FanDuel, this partnership dates back to 2014 and Amy Howe, President & CEO of FanDuel Group said: “For the past seven years the NBA and FanDuel have architected the platinum standard of partnership between a professional sports league and mobile sports gaming operator. Combining the star power of the NBA with our industry leading platform has resulted in innovations that have significantly enhanced the fan experience. We are proud of the deep working relationship we have built with the NBA, and that this agreement will celebrate a decade of official partnership.” FanDuel is the most popular sportsbook in Pennsylvania, with a 37.9% handle share in the state and making $19,325,680 in October.
For the NHL, in October, DraftKings agreed a deal to become the sports betting, DFS and iGaming partner of the League. “As we embark on what promises to be a thrilling 2021-22 NHL season, our partnership with DraftKings, as well as with Turner Sports, will provide for new and exciting experiences to deepen our fan engagement,” said Keith Wachtel, NHL Chief Business Officer and Senior Executive Vice President. “We’re proud to welcome back DraftKings to the NHL family, and look forward to collaborating together with Turner Sports – one of our valued media partners – to develop unique and exciting content for our fans.” In 2019, The Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center entered into an agreement with SugarHouse Casino and PlaySugarHouse.com to become their official sportsbook partners, while in 2020, The Pittsburgh Penguins named Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and BetRivers.com, operated by Rush Street Interactive, as the franchise’s ‘Official Casino’ and ‘Official Sportsbook’ in a new multi-year agreement.
For all of Pennsylvania’s major sports teams, and its citizens wanting to place a bet, the past few years have been a whirlwind. As only the fourth state in the United States to legalize sports betting, Pennsylvania has had time to learn from its mistakes, and to grow. Growth has been pretty constant, despite the pandemic setting back some companies in terms of revenue. Whatever happens, we know that the industry will keep going from strength to strength.