BetMGM was unanimously cleared by the Pennsylvania State Gaming Control Board on Wednesday to begin offering sports betting in the Keystone State, if it can clear a final hurdle and find a land-based casino with whom to partner.

Philadelphia Eagles
The return of live sports has had a positive impact on online sports betting in Pennsylvania. (Image: Bleacher Report)

A Step Closer

Owned by MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings, BetMGM first applied for a pair of licenses in Pennsylvania in January, 2019 — one for interactive gaming, and the other for sports betting.

Because MGM owns the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ, the PGCB certified it as a qualified gaming entity (QGE), allowing BetMGM to launch an online casino product without the need for an in-state land-based partner.

The same doesn’t hold true for sports betting, however, which means Wednesday’s approval is contingent on BetMGM finding a suitable partner within the state. With eight online sportsbooks already operating in Pennsylvania, that means BetMGM’s options are limited, with some insiders speculating they may seek to partner with the new Live! Hotel and Casino, soon to open in Philadelphia.

Sports Betting on the Rebound

Despite pandemic-shortened or delayed professional and college seasons, sports betting in Pennsylvania has experienced record growth this year. After a strong start in January when it booked $348 million in handle and $31.6 million in revenue, operators saw their numbers fall due to a COVID-induced lull from March through June.

The return of live sports in the spring saw renewed interest, however, as July, August, and September trended way up, with September’s betting handle hitting $462.8 million.

2020 Pennsylvania Sports Betting Take (Through September)

Sports betting revenue is courtesy of the PGCB. The control board accounts for promotional dollars that a sportsbook spends in calculating gross revenue, skewing numbers smaller than gross take.

  • January 2020: $348m
  • February 2020: $329m (7.5% decrease)
  • March 2020: $131m (60.2% decrease)
  • April 2020: $46m (185.4% decrease)
  • May 2020: $77m (68.4% increase)
  • June 2020: $89m (14.8% increase)
  • July 2020: $164m (85.1% increase)
  • August 2020: $365m (122% increase)
  • September 2020: $462.8m (27% increase)

BetMGM will join top-tier competitors in Pennsylvania, with September handle in parenthesis, including No. 1 FanDuel Sportsbook ($171.2 million), No. 2 DraftKings Sportsbook ($118.8 million), and No. 3 Rush Street Interactive ($64 million from a combination of two handles from its BetRivers brand.)