TwinSpires is on the verge of demise, but few Pennsylvanians will mourn its exit

The days are numbered for online sports betting and casino site TwinSpires, and the question in Pennsylvania is whether players will notice or even care when this is no longer an option.

Some will, but not many, based on monthly figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board showing that Churchill Downs Inc.’s online platform and virtually attached to Almost Isle Downs & Casino ranks well below most. competitors used.

This lack of success — not just in Pennsylvania, but in other states where TwinSpires competes with better-known entities like FanDuel and DraftKings — was part of the reason Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen announced in a company earnings call on February 24 that the company would remove TwinSpires from the iGaming space nationwide within six months. It will continue to be operated for early deposit horse betting.

TwinSpires offers online sports betting in a total of seven states and iCasino plays in New Jersey and Michigan in addition to Pennsylvania, but they don’t provide the revenue the company is looking for, Carstanjen said.

“We had high hopes for the potential to build a profitable business in this space,” he told investment analysts. “We have profitable retail sports betting at four of our casinos (Presque Isle among them). However, the online sports betting and online casino space is highly competitive, with an ever-increasing number of participants that states have licensed.

Never a leader, by either name

When Churchill Downs began online operations in Pennsylvania in December 2019 as BetAmerica (it switched to the TwinSpires brand last April), there were far fewer competitors than today, with 14 digital sportsbooks and 17 iCasinos now on the market.

But neither then nor now BetAmerica or TwinSpires have ever been a market leader. And to an unusual extent, the bookmaker struggled to make money.

For 11 consecutive months from December 2020 through October 2021, the company reported a net loss of sports betting revenue in Pennsylvania after accounting for promotional credits given to customers. Of its $32.6 million in sports bets for all of 2021, TwinSpires recorded $1.9 million in gross revenue, but -$912,241 in net losses after adjusting for credits.

While $32.6 million might seem like TwinSpires took a lot of bets last year, there are four online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania — FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Barstool — that each top that amount every time. month.

TwinSpires has been able to reverse its sports betting losses over the past three months with net revenue in the black, but is still only a small player on the overall scene. It netted its biggest ever handle in January at $4.8 million, but that was well under 1% of the total statewide betting volume of $737.4 million. To that end, TwinSpires took more bets last month than just three other sites: Caesars ($4.7 million), Betway ($2 million) and Betfred ($1 million).

The state gaming commission’s financial reporting system for iCasinos makes it more difficult to track comparisons between individual operators in this area. As with others, TwinSpires clearly generates more revenue from online slots and table games than from sports betting, although again it is relatively lightly used. The January report showed him with $1.4 million in online casino revenue on the statewide record of $108.3 million.

Once gone, he will be replaced

Pennsylvania players may have several reasons not to mourn the loss of TwinSpires, once it happens. For one thing, it has never been among the biggest sources of special bonus offers and discounts for new or existing customers, even though these have contributed to its net loss claims for several months.

On the other hand, its disappearance will have no impact on sports bettors who buy line differences to gain an advantage. TwinSpires relies on European bettor Kambi for its ranges of games and prop bets, which essentially replicate those of the many other sites in the state whose operators are also Kambi customers: BetRivers, PlaySugarHouse, Unibet, Barstool and Parx.

And perhaps most importantly, rather than one less betting option existing once TwinSpires is eliminated, it is far more likely to simply be replaced. Pennsylvania has a limited number of online sports licenses available – the equivalent of one for each of 16 retail casinos, with a cost of $10 million attached to the license – and operators currently barred from the state can strike a deal with Churchill Downs to take over its license. Carstanjen said on the earnings call that he expected such a scenario.

While most major multi-state sportsbooks are already available in Pennsylvania, many companies operating elsewhere would be attracted to a state with such a large population, even if it has unusually high online gambling tax rates. . WynnBET, for example, has played a big role in other states, but hasn’t had access to Pennsylvania.

And while Carousel Group’s MaximBet brand announced in September that it planned to launch an online casino in the future in Pennsylvania, there was no obvious path then for it to simultaneously launch an online sportsbook. Operators generally like to provide a shared platform for sports bettors and casino players.

Carousel Group spokesman Doug Terfehr said penn paris at the time of iCasino’s announcement, “We will also be exploring sports betting opportunities in the state.”

A deal with Churchill Downs could well represent that opportunity – if not for MaximBet, then probably for another operator that will give online gamblers in Pennsylvania another new option to consider.