Pennsylvania Sports Handle Expected to Get Big Seasonal Boost as Football Season Kicks Off

Posted on: August 19, 2019, 11:20h. 

Last updated on: August 19, 2019, 12:29h.

Pennsylvania’s already growing sports betting handle should get a significant jolt when the calendar turns to September, potentially soaring to $125 million as the NFL season gets going.

The sportsbook at the SugarHouse in Philadelphia, where activity will likely increase when football starts. (Image: PennBets)

The Keystone State’s handle, the total amount wagered on sports, jumped to $59.3 million in July from $46.3 million in June, an impressive increase when considering that the seventh month of the year is usually slow for sports wagering because college football, the NBA, and the NFL are out of season.

Using seasonal data from neighboring New Jersey as a guide, Metro Bet PA estimates Pennsylvania’s August handle could increase to $68 million this month before nearly doubling to $125 million in September.

In August of last year, New Jersey’s handle was $95.6 million, and it nearly doubled in September to $183.9 million,” according to Metro Bet PA.

Sports handles typically increase in August because of the arrival of NFL preseason games and college contests later in the month, as well as gamblers placing bets on NBA and NFL futures.

How The Calendar Affects Pennsylvania Sportsbooks

Pennsylvania’s retail sportsbooks and online and mobile offerings could see an uptick in activity late this month when Penn State and Pittsburgh kick off their seasons on Aug. 31. Those are the only Power 5 schools in the Keystone State.

The NFL’s preseason starts on Aug. 1, but Pennsylvania’s two NFL franchises – the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers – play their first regular season games on Sunday, Sept. 8. Neither team has a bye week during September.

Ahead of the start of the 2019 football season, two sportsbooks recently joined the Pennsylvania fray. Earlier this month, the Parx Casino near Philadelphia and Presque Isle in Eerie, about 100 miles from Cleveland, started taking bets.

While the Eerie area is significantly smaller, population-wise, than the City of Brotherly Love and the Steel City, its proximity to Cleveland is relevant with football season looming because Ohio doesn’t yet offer sports betting, and some fans there are apt to bet on the Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Online Taking Off

As is the case in New Jersey, mobile and online sports betting is soaring in Pennsylvania. Last month, about two-thirds of all sports bets placed in the state were online and mobile, according to Metro Bet PA. That compares well with the approximately 80 percent in the Garden State, which has offered mobile sports betting longer than its neighbor.

With football season coming, industry observers expect that mobile betting will continue increasing in the states offering it, as gamblers put money on in-game wagers. In-game or in-play bets for football contests include wagering on sides or totals for quarters and the first and second halves, activities that are viewed as more conducive for mobile devices rather than bettors trekking to brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to make those wagers.