3 Things I Learned From Massachusetts Sportsbooks February Revenue

Written By Matthew Bain on March 17, 2023Last Updated on April 4, 2023
What we learned from Massachusetts sportsbooks February revenue, from play-ma.com

In case you missed it: Massachusetts casinos reported $25.7 million in total bets at their sportsbooks in February, the first full month with legal retail sports betting in the state.

Encore Boston Harbor led the group with $16.9 million in handle, but Plainridge Park Casino actually wound up with the highest revenue at $890,555 — slightly more than EBH’s $857,602. MGM Springfield, meanwhile, reported the lowest handle and revenue totals by a wide margin.

So … what can we take from the first full month of Massachusetts sports betting data?

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Perhaps the sharp bettors live in Boston

Despite taking in nearly $10 million more in bets than Plainridge Park, Encore Boston Harbor reported a revenue hold of just 5.3%, compared to 12.82% at PPC. That means bettors enjoyed significantly more success at EBH’s WynnBET Sportsbook than they did at PPC’s Barstool Sportsbook.

Perhaps that means the average bettor at Encore — which sits just north of downtown Boston — is more educated in the sports gambling realm. A “sharp” bettor, as they’re called in the industry.

Meanwhile, perhaps, on average, more casual bettors who live outside expensive Boston place their bets at PPC. These bettors may not conduct as much research. In other words: Maybe these Barstool bettors are more the hang-out-with-their-friends-at-the-sportsbook crowd, while EBH bettors are more focused on maximizing returns.

Again, this is just speculation. But the difference in revenue hold is telling.

MA sportsbook numbers from Jan. 31 tell a similar story. On retail sports betting launch day, Encore Boston Harbor reported a negative revenue because its revenue hold was negative 19.8%. On the flip side, PPC had the highest launch day revenue thanks to a whopping 64.9% revenue hold.

Is February following a similar trend to Jan. 31 just coincidence? Or does it have merit?

We’ll keep monitoring retail revenue to find out.

This could be a product of circumstance

If it’s not reflective of a trend in bettor demographics, perhaps February’s revenue numbers could be a product of circumstance.

Yes, $25.7 million in total handle is a lot of money. The combined $2 million in revenue, however, isn’t huge. (OK — we’d all love $2 million in our pockets, but you get what I mean.)

Sometimes, major differences in revenue can simply boil down to bettors having good days somewhere and bad days somewhere else. For instance: If a handful of expensive parlays with sky-high odds happen to hit at once casino and not another, that can add up to a significant difference in revenue.

We don’t know details from MA retail sportsbooks beyond handle and revenue. We don’t know many bets were parlays, how many parlays hit and where those parlays hit.

Still, it’s entirely possible for one sportsbook to have a really “bad” month for parlays and for one to have a “great” month.

Odds likely have nothing to do with this

The differences in revenue holds among all three Massachusetts casinos have more to do with the bettors than the odds.

Translation: Monthlong differences in revenue won’t be because BetMGM Massachusetts offered +150 odds on the Celtics while Barstool Sportsbook offered +180 odds.

Over the course of a month, odds will pretty much even out among three sportsbooks.

So here’s what we’re trying to say: February revenue numbers don’t mean Encore Boston Harbor is the best place for bettors and Plainridge Park Casino is the worst. This is more about bettor education and bettor luck.

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Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain started as Content Manager at Play MA in 2022. Before that, he spent six years as a sports reporter and then deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register, during which time he won nine statewide journalism awards, including the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. As deputy sports editor, Matthew oversaw the Register’s recruiting coverage while also innovating the outlet’s high school sports coverage. Matthew graduated from San Diego State and grew up in California, but he’s somehow a Boston Celtics fan. Long story. Matthew also led coverage of Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 in the California sports betting election battle for Catena Media.

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