U.S. online gaming handle in February reflects YoY increase, despite weaker numbers than January 2021

Different U.S. states have released sports betting revenue reports for the last month, and, in general, the numbers are not encouraging so far. Regardless of sports betting hitting a record high for the Super Bowl and evidencing stronger results than in February 2020, it has not been enough to keep the growth trend in the right direction.

While a declining February, the month of March is showing the evolution of the segment throughout the country, with different officials from the Senate and the House of Representatives having passed sports betting bills in states such as Kansas, Arizona, Georgia and Maryland.
While a declining February, the month of March is showing the evolution of the segment throughout the country, with different officials from the Senate and the House of Representatives having passed sports betting bills in states such as Kansas, Arizona, Georgia and Maryland.

Based on a review made by the relevant site Odds.com, there has been a 12.4% decrease in the betting handle for February 2021 among five states. Indiana, Iowa, Oregon, Washington D.C., and West Virginia were the early reporters and combined for a US$558.5 million betting handle to start 2021. In February, the five states have accumulated together US$489.5 million in betting handle. The drop is discouraging, but does make sense. The NFL only has one game in the month, despite that game being the Super Bowl. Even as heavily bet as the Super Bowl is, it still does not make up for the full NFL schedule between September to December, and January playoff games.

This past January 2021, sportsbooks across the U.S. saw basketball take over as the largest betting handle for the month with limited football action. Even if February 2021 had an additional two to three days in the month, it would most likely not make up the dip that the month will consistently see.

EARLY FEBRUARY NUMBERS

In its betting handle, Iowa saw the lowest dip, going from US$149.5 million in January 2021 to US$143.6 million in February 2021 for a 3.95% decrease. Revenue also dropped from US$11.3 million to US$7.7 million.

Only GameBet DC has reported in Washington, but the mobile betting app is down US$1 million for the district, and West Virginia also had a 24.65% decrease month-to-month. The Mountaineer State went from US$50.7 million wagered in January to US$38.2 million in February. West Virginia also saw its lowest register over the last 12 months at 3.6%, which took a huge chunk of revenue for February. The state went from just under US$4 million in January to US$1.4 million.

Oregon also communicated a nearly 30% lost month-to-month, going from US$34.9 million in bets for January to US$29.6 million for February, and the state lost US$1.2 million in revenue. There is some good news that came out of the Beaver State, however. Oregon will be looking at ways to replace its current mobile betting app, Scoreboard, with DraftKings in the coming months. The state has underperformed drastically with the single-operator model, but adding a reliable operator in DraftKings could turn things around.

The Hoosier State is the fifth market to report, as it saw a US$74.3 million decrease in its betting handle. In January 2021, Indiana collected US$348.2 million in bets compared to February 2021, which had a US$273.9 million betting handle. The state’s revenue also took a massive dip going from US$29.3 million to just under US$17 million for February.

OTHER RECENT INDICATORS

After this scenario, will any state see a positive February? Well, based on numbers from the last couple of days, some of them had. For instance, in Michigan, analysts predicted the launch of this online sports betting market would be successful. February proved their point. The Michigan Gaming Control Board said that this state’s online sportsbooks took in US$301.9 million in wagers during February. The online handle was almost 13 times higher than the US$23.7 million wagered with the state’s retail sportsbooks. February sports betting handle for Michigan was up more than 162% compared with the US$115.2 million in bets taken during the final 10 days in January. The state now has 12 sports betting operators. FanDuel and BetMGM, which are associated with two of Detroit’s three casinos, had the largest wagering totals in Michigan. FanDuel, which partners with MotorCity Casino, reported US$87.2 million in online sports betting, while BetMGM, the sportsbook operator for MGM Grand Detroit, had US$75.7 million in wagers. DraftKings, which oversees sports betting for Michigan’s Bay Mills Indian Community, announced US$72.9 million in wagers. For its part, Barstool Sports, which operates sports betting for Penn National Gaming’s Greektown Casino in Detroit, had the fourth-highest sports betting handle at US$40.3 million.

In Delaware, the local Lottery communicated a 131.2% year-on-year increase in iGaming revenue for February 2021, while consumer spending more than doubled during the month. Revenue reached US$751,291 in February, up from US$324,958 in the same month in 2020 and also marginally higher than the US$738,525 posted in January 2021. Video lottery games remained by far the primary source of income for operators, with revenue from these games amounting to US$597,413. Table games revenue totaled US$114,685 for the month, while poker rake and fees revenue reached US$39,194 during the month. Player spending stood at US$21.9 million, an increase of 121.1% on February 2020 and also higher than the US$21.1 million spent in the opening month of the current year. Consumers spent US$14.9 million on video lottery games and US$7 million on table games, winning a total of US$21.2 million in the process. Delaware Park reclaimed top spot in the market, posting US$301,830 in revenue. Dover Downs, which led the Delaware market in January, slipped to second with US$277,327 in revenue, while Harrington Raceway ranked third with US$172,224 in revenue. For the year to date, consumers’ spending on iGaming was US$43 million.

About more states with non-positive numbers, New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks took in over US$200 million less in sports bets in February than they did a month earlier. Figures released by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement showed the gambling outlets handled nearly US$743 million worth of sports bets in February, down from the more than US$996 million they handled in January. But February’s sports betting numbers were still about US$200 million higher than they were in February 2020. That, combined with continued strong performance from Internet gambling, which was up over 80% from a year ago, helped the casinos and tracks barely exceed the total amount they took in last February 2020. The US$288.2 million they won this February was up 0.3% from a year ago. The casinos and tracks kept over US$46 million of the sports bets they handled in February 2021, up from just US$17 million a year ago. Among total revenue from individual casinos, Hard Rock was up 8.6% to US$29.2 million; Ocean was up 2.4% to US$21.8 million; and Borgata was up 1.8% to US$67.6 million. For their part, Harrah’s was down over 43% to US$15 million; Resorts was down almost 37% to US$9.1 million; Caesars was down 35% to US$13.5 million; and Tropicana was down almost 27% to US$22 million. Casino revenue from slots, table games, poker and in-person sports books declined by over 48% from last February through this one, but online gambling and sports betting revenue soared by nearly 92% over that same period, as many customers were quarantining or avoiding casinos even after they reopened in the summer. Before the pandemic, online betting accounted for roughly 20% of gaming revenues, but has since grown to nearly 47%.

In relation to Pennsylvania, sportsbooks took US$509.5 million in bets in February 2021, said local Gaming Control Board. While it was down 17.2% from the January 2021 record of US$615.3 million, the bigger picture shows no cause for alarm. PA handle has surpassed US$500 million in four out of the last five months (the exception being November 2020, when handle was US$491.9 million). Besides, handle for February 2021 was up 54.5% year-over-year compared to US$329.8 million of last year’s February. The month-over-month drop is also typical of February, when the betting calendar cools off between the Super Bowl and March Madness. If the trends from previous months hold, PA will rank third for total handle behind New Jersey and Nevada. Online sports betting generated 92.2%, or US$469.7 million, of February’s handle. FanDuel Sportsbook/Valley Forge Casino led the market with US$176.3 million in online bets, down from US$220.7 million in January. Those bets produced US$7.3 million in taxable revenue. DraftKings/The Meadows was second with US$111.7 million in bets, down from US$143.5 million in January, yielding US$3 million in taxable revenue. The Barstool-branded Penn National/Hollywood Casino app finished February in third with US$65.6 million, up from US$65 million in January. It managed to gross US$5.1 million in revenue, but heavy promotion led to a US$726,040 loss in taxable revenue. Retail sportsbooks caused only a US$39.8 million handle, up from US$35.4 million in January. Sportsbooks won US$3 million on February’s bets. After a whopping US$16.8 million in promo credits, the PA books claimed revenue of US$16.4 million, a significant drop from US$34 million revenue in January 2021, but up 246.9% YoY. In general state numbers, revenues for February totaled US$301.98 million compared to US$304.3 million in February 2020. Moreover, February’s bets produced US$16.4 million in taxable revenue, up 246.9% from US$4.7 million in February 2020, yielding US$5.6 million in state taxes.

Anticipating the future of the market, basketball will continue to take over the late winter months and be a huge cash cow in March, when the NCAA tournament gets going. Although February will most likely be a down month for most betting markets, March should rebound nicely in the U.S. For the first time in two years, the NCAA March Madness tournament is back in action, which should bring a lot of betting demand after the Coronavirus shut it down last season. After a survey, the American Gaming Association estimated 47.4 million Americans will wager on this month’s March Madness, representing a similar figure to those that indicated they would bet on the tournament in 2019. The U.S. has tripled its betting markets from 2019, and legal sports betting will bring more action. February might be a dip in the U.S. betting industry, but the March Madness tournament will help bring a rebound next month.