Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported the state’s three casino retail sportsbooks had a combined sports wagering handle of $510,948.04 on Jan. 31, when sports betting became legal in Massachusetts.
Because sportsbooks opened on the final day of January, only one day of revenue data was reported. We’ll get a full month’s worth of numbers to crunch March 15, when February revenue gets posted.
But still — there’s plenty to take away from the Jan. 31 numbers.
Here are five things we learned from one day of Massachusetts retail sportsbook revenue.
WynnBET Sportsbook is going to be the most popular
In terms of total money accepted on sports bets, the WynnBET Sportsbook at Encore Boston Harbor blew the other two retail sportsbooks out of the water.
WynnBET reported $370,881.75 in sports bets placed Jan. 31. That’s 72.6% of all Massachusetts sports betting handle.
And, really, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Encore Boston Harbor is technically located in Everett. But, in reality, it’s in Boston — just 6 miles north of downtown. It advertises itself as “Boston’s only sportsbook” and will draw the vast majority of the Boston in-person sports betting crowd.
Encore Boston Harbor’s location is a big win for WynnBET. The WynnBET Massachusetts app might not even be among the five most popular in the state. But thanks to its Boston retail presence, it should still have good success in Massachusetts.
This is why sample size matters
The percentage of handle a sportsbook keeps is called its revenue hold.
And, boy, did the revenue holds vary dramatically on Jan. 31.
Encore Boston Harbor actually lost money on Jan. 31 — $74,230.15 — so it had a negative-19.8% revenue hold. BetMGM Massachusetts at MGM Springfield held onto $12,152.56 of its handle for a 21% revenue hold. And Plainridge Park Casino kept $53,554.26 of its handle for a 64.9% revenue hold.
So, from -19.8% to 64.9% … that’s an 84.7% variance. That’s the type of inconsistency you can expect from one day of data.
That means PPC bettors had a bad day, MGM bettors had an average day, and EBH bettors had an amazing day.
Over the course of a full month, though, things will even out among the three casino sportsbooks. PPC bettors won’t always have bad days. EBH won’t always pay out more money than it took in.
Put it this way: We’d confidently bet that 84.7% variance will never be topped.
There can be a huge difference between revenue and handle
If you didn’t know a sportsbook could report a negative revenue for a month, now you do.
The WynnBET Sportsbook at EBH paid bettors $444,184.70 while only taking in $370,881.75. So, even though its handle of $370,881.75 was impressive and led Massachusetts sportsbooks by a mile, it’s revenue of negative-$74,230.15 was the least of the sportsbooks by a mile.
That’s why revenue is the more important number to monitor. A sportsbook can take in all the sports wagering handle it could ever dream of. But if all those bets win, it doesn’t get to keep a penny. In fact, it will lose pennies. Lots of them.
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Tax payments depend on how lucky bettors are
Along those lines … the amount of money Massachusetts gets from sports betting tax revenue depends largely on how lucky the state’s sports bettors are on a regular basis.
Here’s how much the state government got from Jan. 31 sports betting: $9,861.02.
Multiply that by 30 days, and you’d get $295.830.60. And for the year … $3,549,967.20.
Those numbers change in a big way if WynnBET gamblers don’t have such a great Jan. 31. Let’s say EBH had the same revenue hold as MGM Springfield — 21%. That would have given Encore about $77,885 in January revenue. With a 15% retail sports betting tax rate, that would have meant $11,682.78 more paid to the state government.
So, instead of $9,861.02, January sportsbook tax payments would have been $21,543.80.
Multiply that by 30 days, and you’d get $646.313.85. And for the year … $7,755,766.24.
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This is obviously a flawed example, because the law of averages will apply over a 30-day month. And, over a 30-day month, revenues will be higher and tax payments will be higher.
But it is a good example of how much bettor luck can sway tax revenue.
Things won’t continue at this rate
Retail sports betting will continue to be popular in Massachusetts. It was huge for the Super Bowl, and it will be huge again for March Madness in a few weeks.
But, no, every day won’t be as popular as launch day. On most days, the state’s three casino sportsbooks won’t combine for a sports wagering handle north of $500,000. (Exceptions include the Super Bowl, March Madness, etc.)
We’ll start to notice more reliable trends for MA in-person sports betting once we see a few full months of revenue data, when bettors fall into a more steady, not-launch-day-frenzied routine.