Three Pennsylvania casinos generated $2 million of revenue on $16.2 million in sports bets wagered in December, the first full month of sports wagering in the state, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced Thursday.
The state collected about $722,000 in taxes on the activity — Pennsylvania has a 36 percent tax on sports betting revenues, one of the nation’s highest rates.
The revenue figures were released the same day as Parx Casino opened the state’s fifth sports-betting outlet at the South Philly Turf Club at 700 Packer Avenue, on the edge of the city’s stadium district. The Turf Club sportsbook is a satellite operation of the Parx sports-wagering operation that opened last week at the casino in Bucks County.
“You can finally make a legal sports bet in South Philadelphia,” Parx Chief Executive Tony Ricci, a South Philly native, said at the opening of the sportsbook at the Turf Club.
Parx officials said they were impressed with the December sports-betting action at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course near Hershey, which began taking bets in November, and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, which began taking bets on Dec. 13. The three casinos reported similar total December sports-betting handles of between $5.1 million and $5.6 million.
But gross revenue retained by each casino varied significantly, from $299,000 at Hollywood, to $642,000 at SugarHouse to $1.1 million at Rivers, reflecting different levels of fortune by bettors at the different venues.
Parx, which is the state’s top-grossing casino in Bensalem, is likely to attract a more modest handle at the Turf Club, which unlike a full-service casino, can only offer patrons horse-racing and some food and beverage services.
Parx spent $1 million to modify and update the Turf Club, which has been taking horse-racing wagers since 1994 and was due for an upgrade. As part of the modification, Parx increased the Turf Club’s admission age from 18 — the minimum age for horse betting — to 21, the minimum for sports betting.
The addition of the sportsbook will make the Turf Club more attractive as a sports bar, Parx officials said, and should help it to reinforce some loyalty with South Philadelphia sports bettors before the scheduled 2020 opening of the Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia next door, at 900 Packer Avenue.
The Live! Casino venture, which Parx’s parent company was a partner in before being bought out recently by the Cordish Group of Baltimore, is also expected to apply for a sports-betting license before it begins operations at the end of next year.