Pennsylvania Sports-Betting Revenue Modest
Pennsylvania’s six sports books, currently located at five land-based casinos and one off-track betting facilities, generated just $32 million in handle during January, holding around 8 percent in revenue.
While the books are still only getting started—Hollywood at Penn National, SugarHouse and Rivers operated for the entire month of January while Parx, South Philly Turf Club, and Harrah’s all started in January—the modest results still have many calling for the start of online and mobile sports betting, which would vastly increase wagering handle.
The implementation of online sports betting in Pennsylvania was thrown into question by the recent U.S. Department of Justice memo holding that interstate transfer of wagering info, and data supporting it, may violate the federal 1962 Wire Act.
New Jersey sports betting generated 80 percent of revenue from mobile and online platforms in January, according to the Legal Sports Report website. The state generated nearly $400 million in handle with 11 live apps.
Mobile wagering is legal in Pennsylvania under the 2017 expansion law. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach told Legal Sports Report last month that a mobile launch timetable is undetermined. “We continue to work with the casinos and their partners to get everyone licensed and equipment/software tested. Once the casinos are ready, we can launch,” he said at the time.
Meanwhile, a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would channel all state revenue from sports betting to property tax relief for the state’s homeowners. The state’s share of sports betting revenue is 34 percent of revenue after winners are paid.
Pennsylvania homeowners already receive property tax relief from casino revenues. The states’ 2004 gaming law stated that revenue for gaming would go primary to lower property taxes, with funds going to the Property tax Relief Fund created by the 2006 Taxpayer Relief Act. In 2017, Pennsylvania voters approved a constitutional amendment that allows lawmakers to exempt state homeowners from paying any property tax at all—as long as the revenue is replaced by another source. So far, other sources, including casino taxes, have not generated enough to relieve property taxes altogether.
In filing the bill, Davis, provided a memo to the House of Representatives stating, “Pennsylvania homeowners continue to face rising property taxes. Seniors on fixed incomes are especially challenged by the issue, particularly those who struggle to pay for food and medications and still be able to afford to keep their homes. Given this difficult and challenging situation, it is incumbent upon us as concerned public officials to do everything we can to help provide much-needed property tax relief to our citizens.”
The bill would redirect Pennsylvania sports betting revenue from the General Fund to the Property Tax Relief Fund.