How Pennsylvania Can Use Revenue from Online Sports Betting to Counter Covid-19 Economic Hit

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Credit: psu.edu

Pennsylvania posted an all-time high gaming revenue in 2019, accruing $3.4 billion in the first full year of legal sports betting. Like many states where sports bookmaking is legal, DraftKings and FanDuel were the most popular sports gambling sites.

FanDuel garnered $13.3 million, while DraftKings made $11.6 million through online sports betting in Pennsylvania. Valley Forge Casino, which has a partnership with FanDuel, also made some $22.2M through sports bets. In contrast, Rivers Casino earned $7.6 million.

Billions of profits for casinos means millions of tax income for Pennsylvania. It also means there’s available cash to stimulate the state’s hard-hit economy by COVID-19. But how can the Keystone State best use this income to counter the impacts of the pandemic?

Job Creation

Job loss is the biggest economic impact of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. More than half a million people in the state filed unemployment claims during the first week Tom Wolf announced a mandatory lockdown.

By June, close to one million people had lost work—a record number in the state. Many of the lost jobs revolve around housekeeping, cashiers, baggage handlers, and small business owners.

Against that backdrop, the best use for tax income from gambling sources has to involve creating employment. Lockdown measures are already being relaxed, so there’s room for willing people to find work. 

The Internet offers the safest way for people to work in the wake of COVID-19: shopping sites, food delivery services, and online gaming. This includes freelancing sites and online gaming related sources of income, like streaming and betting.

According to betting.us, PA online sports betting sites and apps offer thousands of betting markets daily. This means you can wager on all major leagues in the US and worldwide. What’s more, these operators have free bets and bonuses punters can use to magnify their profits.

At-Home Mobilization

With over 100,000 COVID-19 cases, Pennsylvania has no plans to lift all lockdown measures. Instead, its efforts lie in mobilizing people to stay at home for as long as it takes. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

People want jobs and paychecks. They want to open their businesses and earn money to support their families. To convince them they need to continue staying at home, Pennsylvania can use some of its betting revenue for reliefs.

The government has been providing relief to businesses and Americans for a while. But now that stimulus checks are off, Pennsylvania can provide assistance to the most affected families.

In Europe, continued government support is the primary reason lockdowns have been so successful. In the top five largest economies, governments have been paying furloughed workers through their employers weekly. The result is that COVID-19 cases have been reducing dramatically.

Social Economic Reforms

After World War II, one of the best things the US did was to create reforms that benefited returning soldiers. Enacted through the GI Bill, these reforms involved helping veterans improve their skills or advance in education.

As a result, the country resurged from the post-war recession pretty quickly. The same thing happened to Europe’s largest economies. Governments created measures to help soldiers sustain their families after the War. And within a few months, these veterans were back to work or school.

In all fairness, COVID-19 isn’t remotely similar to War World II. Many of the people who’ve lost their jobs will reclaim them once the pandemic is over. Those on the front lines won’t lose their jobs anytime soon. Still, Pennsylvania can introduce measures that help people with no hopes of getting their jobs back to sustain their lives.

Subsidizing Basic Commodities

Amid Coronavirus, people are spending less on recreation, entertainment, appliances, furnishings, and automobiles. Instead, they are spending more on essential commodities like groceries and sanitation products.

For a brief while in March, these products became almost unaffordable as consumers rushed to buy as many necessary items as possible. Luckily, this panic reduced, and prices for commodities have been reverted to their regular rates.

Unfortunately, people are still spending less on recreation and entertainment. But this is where Pennsylvania can come into play. It could subsidize these essential commodities so much that people could feel motivated to spend their money on other services.

In turn, industries such as hospitality, entertainment, and transportation, won’t continue to suffer for long. Alternatively, it can offer relief to these more affected industries with the hope that they will reduce their prices and attract customers.

Policies to Boost the Stocks Market

Share prices of businesses in Pennsylvania—like other states—have been performing reasonably well. That’s because businesses are reopening, and people are getting back to work.

Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go. Pennsylvania can do its part to help the shares of local businesses surge. For example, it can provide consistent subsidies and stimulus packages to keep businesses in operation.

As a result, companies will make profits, attract more investors. In turn, this will lead to more people buying shares and helping grow businesses throughout the state. 

Safe Reopening

People have been calling for the full reopening of Pennsylvania since April. But for the benefit of everyone in the state, Governor Tom Wolf is yet to open all counties. Instead, he’s using a cautious approach to determine which sectors of the economy are safe to reopen.

Pennsylvania commenced lockdown relaxation measures in May. But with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, there’s a need for a better provision for safe reopening. On the one hand, people want to get back to work and stimulate the economy. On the other end, Pennsylvania has a role in helping end the pandemic. 

Conclusion

Pennsylvania has been collecting millions of dollars from legal sports betting since 2018. Now is the time to put some of the money into good us—help the state counter COVID-19 economic terror. 

Pennsylvania can continue doing what it’s been doing since March: providing stimulus packages and subsidizing products. But it also needs robust policies to protect its people as they continue to get back to work.