Pennsylvania Latest Top-Tier State to Report August Sports Betting Increase

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A general view of the game between the Steelers and the Raiders at Heinz Field. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images/AFP

The seasonal summer sports betting slowdown appears to officially be in the books thanks to the rash of states reporting an increase in legal sports betting activity in August. So far, only a few of the most bet-friendly states in the nation have reported their August figures and all have seen a double-digit percentage increase.

Pennsylvania is on the board with their own impressive increase in month-to-month wagering activity. The state’s sportsbooks in August saw a healthy spike in handle over the 31-day period, giving rise to a sense that the industry has turned the corner and is ready to once again approach records.

“August’s sports schedule is still relatively light compared with the fall, so it is welcome to see betting volume move off the low we saw in July,” said Valerie Cross, an analyst for “The next four months is the most important stretch of the year for sportsbooks, though, and every sign point toward a stretch of widespread growth.”

About the August Figures

Pennsylvania sportsbooks had been mired in four-month legal sports betting slump before their August report. July apparently represented the bottoming out for the industry after four straight months of declines.

The Pennsylvania legal sports betting scene produced a $348.5 million sports betting handle in August, which is a 14.5% increase from the $304.4 million taken in by the state’s sportsbooks in July. It was a welcome sign for an industry searching for some good news.

Year-over-year, the overall Pennsylvania handle saw a slight decrease of 4.5% from the $365 million reported in August 2020.

Pennsylvania’s mobile sports betting apps also saw a nice spike in August. A total of $318.1 million was bet over the internet in August, which is 91.3% of the overall $348.5 million in bets. The number is a 15.5% month-to-month increase from July’s $275.4 million but is slightly less than the total from August 2020 when $321.6 million was spent on Pennsylvania mobile apps.

Unfortunately for Pennsylvania sportsbooks, revenues didn’t follow the same path as the handle. Sportsbook profits actually fell 9.3% from $19.9 million in July to $18 million in August.

Sportsbooks’ tax contribution in Pennsylvania amounted to $6.1 million in August.

Thank Goodness for Football

It is no secret that the US legal sports betting industry depends on football. That fact is no more apparent than the August wagering spikes seen across the broad US sports betting scene. The talk of football and the preseason hype buoyed the industry in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

“An inglorious exit from the NBA playoffs, the struggles of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the inconsistency of the Phillies conspired to make this a relatively slow summer for Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the Network, which includes “It took just a handful of games in August to show how important football is to the sports-betting industry.”

September and Beyond

Now with football in full swing, sportsbooks can relax and enjoy the fruits of the next six-plus months of healthy increases in not only handles, but revenues too. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, along with the iconic college football franchises in Pennsylvania will help the overall wagering scene approach and perhaps eclipse sports betting records for Keystone State. The 14.5% August increase is likely just a sign of things to come for sports betting in Pennsylvania.

It all adds up to a potential yearly record of the Pennsylvania sports betting industry. With four more months to go in 2021, there is little doubting that their previous yearly record will be smashed and that monthly totals could start reaching new heights as soon as this month. Stay tuned.