Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for the week of Aug. 19-23. In this column, we’ll set the stage for Keystone State sports bettors’ week ahead and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities.
The news, all good at the moment, just keeps coming for Pennsylvania sportsbooks. This past week included a landmark deal between a professional sports league and a sportsbook that will have an impact on the PA betting scene. Then, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released sports betting numbers for July. And it’s a new high-water mark in overall handle. We’ll dig deeper into that report and also offer betting takes on both the Eagles‘ and Steelers‘ Week 3 preseason games.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
MLB-FanDuel deal, release of July numbers highlight another busy week
The news in the Pennsylvania sports betting landscape seems to only be getting more impactful as we inch closer to the NFL regular season. That’s annually the most lucrative multi-month portion of the sports betting calendar. Last week, we reported on a multitude of developments that included PlaySugarHouse and Rivers Casinos rolling out a $500,000 Pick ‘Em Contest for NFL season. This past week arguably matched or exceeded the prior week’s developments.
It began with the announcement of an agreement between Major League Baseball and FanDuel Sportsbook. The deal makes FD the authorized gaming operator of MLB. First and foremost, that translates to FanDuel gaining access to MLB’s official data feed. They’ll also be able to utilize league and team marks and logos throughout both their online and retail sports betting platforms. In Pennsylvania, these components will manifest themselves in the Keystone State online version of FanDuel Sportsbook and the operator’s brick-and-mortar location at Valley Forge Casino. FD is also touting an expansion of in-play MLB betting as part of the new arrangement. That means Phillies and Pirates fans will soon have even more wagering options while they enjoy the game from the stands of Citizens Bank Park or PNC Park.
Then, the release of July’s sports betting numbers by the PGCB took center stage later in the week. Pennsylvania sportsbooks—both retail and online—brought in a total of $59 million in total handle. That’s the biggest month for the state yet. A total of $39 million came from online betting. And over $22 million of that amount came from PlaySugarHouse specifically. The operator’s workaround for iOS devices, which allowed users to access the browser-based version of its site on mobile devices combined with an attractive sign-up bonus offer, comfortably propelled it to the top of the online leaderboard. On the retail side, SugarHouse also stood at the top of the heap in both handle ($4,288,325) and revenue ($530,421).
It’s worth noting July’s claim to the most momentous month in PA sports betting history will assuredly be short-lived. To begin with, August will feature an exponential boost in handle and revenue due to NFL preseason betting. Additionally, FD Sportsbook will have gone through its first full month of operation. Finally, Parx Casino having its online app available in the Apple Store for almost the entire month should have a significant impact.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m. EDT
- SugarHouse Casino Moneyline Odds: Ravens -205/ Eagles +170
- FanDuel Sportsbook Moneyline Odds: Ravens -180/ Eagles +155
- Rivers Casino Moneyline Odds: Ravens -205/ Eagles +170
The quarterbacks keep dropping like flies for the Eagles this preseason. Yet the offense is still managing to get some good work done. The latest casualty was Cody Kessler. He left last week’s win over the Jaguars with a head injury and is now in the concussion protocol. That followed the broken wrist suffered by projected No. 2 Nate Sudfeld in the exhibition opener. Nevertheless, rookie Clayton Thorson managed to hold the fort down against Jacksonville following Kessler’s exit.
Thorson finished with 175 passing yards along with a touchdown and interception and helped lead four scoring drives. Then, the Eagles coaxed Josh McCown out of retirement over the weekend to serve as an experienced stopgap. McCown was already receiving second-team reps by Monday’s practice and could see solid time in Thursday’s game. The chances of that will be even higher if coach Doug Pederson opts to hold Carson Wentz out of action altogether. Even if the talented but oft-injured signal-caller does sit, some of the other starting components of the Philadelphia offense—Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz among them—could see some playing time. This is their last chance to get into a rhythm before the regular season.
The Ravens have notched victories in each of their first two preseason games. Baltimore has given Lamar Jackson plenty of playing time by preseason standards to help further his development as a passer. The second-year signal-caller seems to be coming along relatively well in that regard. He will likely see plenty of snaps in Thursday’s game. That could well hold true for the majority of the Baltimore offense. However, the receiver corps with which the Ravens will open the season is inexperienced. It currently features a miscast Willie Snead at the top of its depth chart. Given the Eagles’ impressive first-team defense, that could add up to a rough start for Jackson and company Thursday.
Overall, Philadelphia has more proven offensive depth and a strong defensive unit. Combined with the fact the Eagles are also sporting plus money on the moneyline, I’m going with Philly.
The Pick: Eagles moneyline
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m. EDT
- SugarHouse Casino Moneyline Odds: Steelers +114/ Titans -134
- FanDuel Sportsbook Moneyline Odds: Steelers +110/ Titans -130
- Rivers Casino Moneyline Odds: Steelers +114/ Titans -134
The Steelers moved to 2-0 in preseason play Saturday night with a 17-7 win over the Chiefs. Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs once again saw extended action and under center and turned in serviceable performances. Devin Hodges came in to close out the game and actually notched Pittsburgh’s only passing score to rookie Diontae Johnson. Looking ahead to Week 3 of the preseason, it’s certainly possible Ben Roethlisberger sees his first and only action of the exhibition slate. Even if he’s held out, Steelers backup signal-callers have already proven their ability to move the ball this summer.
Coach Mike Tomlin did roll out some front-line offensive pieces against Kansas City. James Conner logged seven touches. JuJu Smith-Schuster saw three targets. Vance McDonald also recorded a reception, and James Washington led the team in both receptions and receiving yardage for the second time in as many preseason games. In a solid rotation of reserves that included RBs Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels, Johnson and WR Eli Rogers also saw action throughout. The Steelers boast some impressive speed throughout the latter portion of their offensive depth chart. That can be a key factor against the third- and fourth-string secondaries that typically take the field in the preseason.
The Titans are 1-1 this preseason after dropping a 22-17 decision to the Patriots in Week 2 of the exhibition slate. The quarterback trio of Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill and Logan Woodside saw action against New England. Like the Steelers, the Titans also have some quality depth to count on by preseason standards. That’s especially true in the receiving corps. Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe are available behind starters Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. At present, it’s uncertain how long Head Coach Mike Vrabel will keep his first-team offense on the field Sunday night. One wild card is star running back Derrick Henry. He just returned to individual drills Monday after being absent since the first day of training camp due to a calf injury.
This game is still somewhat of a mystery: we don’t how long first-team players will remain in the game. Whether each squad treats it as the traditional “dress rehearsal” game in the third week of preseason or they go with a modified approach, the better price on Pittsburgh tilts things in their favor.
The Pick: Steelers moneyline