Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NFL Week 7. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities as well.
The long-awaited look at what impact the start of NFL season would have on Pennsylvania sports betting numbers is finally available with the release of those figures by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Thursday. We’ll delve further into that story and also touch on the latest sportsbook to strike an agreement with a major sports league. Then, we’ll close out with betting takes on both the big Week 7 Eagles-Cowboys NFC East primetime showdown and next Wednesday’s 76ers opener against the Atlantic Division rival Boston Celtics.
Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News
Start of NFL season delivers expected massive boost to Keystone State sports betting handle
There’s been building anticipation for months with respect to what September 2019 sports betting numbers in Pennsylvania might look like. After all, this marks the first full NFL season with legalized wagering in the Keystone State. Excitement/interest in NFL betting may well be at its highest at the start of each new campaign. There is also a robust selection of operators now open for business in Pennsylvania. For the month of September, the pool of sportsbooks consisted of 11 retail locations and five online skins.
The PGCB ended the suspense Thursday. Overall, handle enjoyed a 78 percent-plus boost in the state, going from August’s $109 million to just under $195 million. Pennsylvania residents notably flocked to their laptops or mobile devices to place an overwhelming amount of those wagers. Online handle accounted for just over $158 million of that number. FanDuel Sportsbook far outpaced its competition in that category. It accounted for just over $85 million of the online handle in the state while serving as Valley Forge Casino’s online skin. It will be fascinating to see if the state’s online segment turns into a two-horse race once DraftKings Sportsbook enters the fray. That could unfold in late October/early November.
In terms of revenue, sportsbooks held just under $15 million of that aforementioned $195 million. Just over $5.6 million of that went to the retail side. Online operators accounted for just over $9.2 million. Presque Isle Downs was the revenue leader in the brick-and-mortar end of things. FanDuel Sportsbook was a comfortable first on the mobile side with just over $4.7 million. On the other end of the online spectrum was Mount Airy Casino’s FoxBet-branded mobile sportsbook. The operator has gotten plenty of media attention due to its branding. However, it still checked in last in online handle (just over $4.5 million) and revenue ($231,536). It also brought up the rear on the retail side with $372,418 in handle and $45,658 in revenue.
FoxBet, MLB strike up data partnership
In the “early days” of widespread sports betting legalization — i.e. much of 2018 — integrity fees were a hot and polarizing topic in statehouses across the country. The pro sports leagues’ tried without any real success to get such payments codified into sports betting laws. Absent that, they’ve progressively begun carving out collaborative agreements with individual sportsbooks that involve official data pertaining to the games they sanction.
FoxBet has now joined FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook and MGM Resorts in striking such a deal with Major League Baseball. The pact, announced Tuesday, makes FoxBet an official gaming operator of MLB. In part, that gives FoxBet the right to use the league’s official data feed and official marks in its online sports betting app. As mentioned above, FoxBet is off to a very sluggish start in Pennsylvania. These types of partnerships at minimum serve to raise its profile.
This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks
NFL Week 7
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys — 8:20 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Point Spread/Odds: +2.5 (-103)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: +2.5 (+100)
- FanDuel Point Spread/Odds: +3 (-135)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: +2.5 (-103)
The two NFC East rivals square off at AT & T Stadium in what essentially amounts to an early-to-mid-season desperation game for each. Each squad is 3-3 but actually holds a share of first place in the NFC East. Therefore, the urgency comes not from a divisional perspective; rather, it’s from a conference-wide view. The Packers, Vikings, Saints, Panthers, 49ers and Seahawks all have better records than both Philly and Dallas with the midpoint of the 2019 campaign rapidly approaching.
The Cowboys have taken the last three games in the series. Extending that streak could be formidable challenge. The Eagles have the ability to make teams highly one-dimensional this season with a run defense that’s allowed a minuscule 72.8 rushing yards per game, second fewest in the NFL. The bad news for Philadelphia has been that teams usually haven’t minded going pass-heavy against them. Their secondary has been depleted by injury all season. However, the tide may be turning a bit on that front. Both starting corners Ronald Darby (hamstring) and Avonte Maddox (concussion/neck) have a chance to return this week after multiple missed games.
Then, the Cowboys may be less well equipped than usual to take advantage of any potential vulnerabilities on the back end of the Eagles’ defense. Dallas’ top three wideouts are all sporting questionable designations as of Thursday afternoon. Amari Cooper (quadriceps/ankle), Michael Gallup (knee) and Randall Cobb (back) could all potentially miss Sunday’s game. Gallup may be the likeliest to play. Yet the path to success for the Dallas offense narrows significantly if he’s forced to be out there without his pair of teammates. Gallup essentially found himself in that predicament in Week 6 against the Jets after Cooper exited the game and with Cobb inactive. Gallup was unable to effectively handle all the extra attention that came his way and finished with just four receptions for 48 yards.
Finally, the Eagles will hope to get one of their own walking wounded back in action Sunday. DeSean Jackson has missed four games with his abdominal injury but has been labeled as “day to day” by coach Doug Pederson at this point. However, Jackson missed both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices. Expecting a Week 7 return may therefore be a bit ambitious at this point.
With both teams having plenty at stake — in fact, the Cowboys arguably are playing for coach Jason Garrett’s job each week now — I see this as the typical slug-fest between division rivals. Consequently, I think the three-point spread is one that the Eagles can handle coming in under. An outright upset is also in play.
The Pick: Eagles +3
NBA Opening Night
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics — Wednesday, Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. ET
- SugarHouse Point Spread/Odds: -6 (-110)
- FOX Bet Point Spread/Odds: -5.5 (-120)
- FanDuel Sportsbook Point Spread/Odds: -6 (-110)
- Rivers Casino Point Spread/Odds: -6 (-110)
The NBA serves up an intriguing Atlantic Division rivalry game right from the jump with the Celtics and 76ers getting together at Wells Fargo Center to cut the ribbon on the 2019-20 campaign for each club. Both teams saw significant personnel movement in the offseason. For Boston, the biggest news was the departure of Kyrie Irving. However, Al Horford‘s exit to Philadelphia was a close second. The ramifications of that move will be front and center in this game with Horford having landed with the 76ers.
The Celtics did a nice job replacing Irving with Kemba Walker. He’s a notch below his predecessor but is coming off career bests in multiple categories in 2018-19 with the Hornets. Meanwhile, Boston may have found a keeper in second-rounder Carsen Edwards. He’ll replace another offseason loss, Terry Rozier. Enes Kanter is also in the fold to help round out the frontcourt following Horford’s exit. Gordon Hayward will actually be the player sliding into Horford’s old starting power forward spot.
For their part, the 76ers didn’t stop with just the Horford addition. They also did big business with the Miami Heat by sending them Jimmy Butler and receiving a new starting two-guard, Josh Richardson, in return. Richardson finally appeared to come into his own last season in Miami. He finished the year averaging career highs in points (16.6), assists (4.1), rebounds (3.6) and made threes (2.2) per contest. He’ll replace veteran J.J. Redick, who headed south to the New Orleans Pelicans after two solid seasons with the Sixers.
The Celtics held a 3-1 advantage in last year’s season series. With the exception of the Celtics’ 105-87 Opening Night victory at TD Garden, each of the three other meetings was close. Boston’s other two wins against Philadelphia came by seven and three points, respectively. The 76ers’ one victory was by three points. The Celtics were 43-46-2 (48.3 percent) against the spread overall last season, including 11-8 (57.9 percent) as a road underdog. The 76ers were 46-48 (48.9 percent) versus the number, including 22-21 (51.2 percent) as a home favorite.
The two teams remain closely matched despite the offseason maneuvering of each. It will be interesting to see how Daniel Theis handles a starting center role for the Celtics, but Boston has quality depth in the form of Kanter. Neither player should be able to slow Joel Embiid down much. However, the fact these two clubs know each other so well and usually play each other close leans me toward Boston being able to keep any defeat to five points or less.
The Lean: Celtics +6