It could have been bad. Very bad. Pandemic-related shutdowns in Pennsylvania, the nation’s number two commercial gambling state, conspired to hammer down casino revenue down by as much as 18% over the full financial year the state regulators, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced recently. However, it was a number held aloft and could have so much worse if it wasn’t for the onset of online casino wagering and sports betting.
Revenue from licensed and regulated gambling in the Keystone State shrank to $2.7 billion in the just-finished fiscal year, down from the record high of just above $3.3 billion reported just a year ago, according to the official report.
Revenue from slot machine play was down by approximately $680 million and table games decreased by about $240 million, both down almost 30% apiece. Disappointing results for sure, but on the up side, legal online casino game play contributed $240 million and sports betting raked in $114 million in the first full year for both past times in Pennsylvania.
The genesis of the numbers came from the Keystone State’s 12 bricks-and-mortar casinos spending much of the spring and early shut down on the back of the global pandemic, while online sports wagering and online casino play carried on unabated. Yes, online sports betting also continued, however, it was hobbled by the cancellation of sporting events during the pandemic and held up by betting on Table Tennis, eNASCAR and soccer betting in far flung leagues like those in Korea, Belarus and Nicaragua.
Breaking the Numbers Down
Despite the Keystone State’s legislators finding in favor of legal online casino gaming in 2017, it wasn’t until July 2019 that opening of the Pennsylvanian Online Casino Industry eventuated.
Let’s examine how the each of the Keystone State’s Online Casino performed in 2019/20;
- Hollywood Casino via Hollywood: June 2019 ($38,445,607)
- Parx Casino via Parx: June 2019 ($30,156,746)
- SugarHouse Casino via Rivers Philadelphia: July 2019 ($73,157,709)
- Unibet Casino via Mohegan Sun Pocono: November 2019 ($9,615,090)
- PokerStars Casino via Mount Airy: November 2019 ($24,120,154 – however, $48,770,064 with online poker)
- FanDuel Casino via Valley Forge: January 2020 ($37,474,322)
- BetRivers Casino via Rivers Pittsburgh: January 2020 (no casino game revenue listed)
- BetAmerica Casino via Presque Isle Downs: January 2020 ($1,351,982)
- Caesars Casino via Harrah’s Philadelphia: April 2020 ($1,923,332)
- DraftKings Casino via Meadows: May 2020 (no casino game revenue listed)
Revenue was also impressive for Pennsylvania’s sole online poker site operated for the full fiscal year;
- PokerStars for online poker via Mount Airy: November 2019 ($24,649,910)
Sports betting solid numbers even with sports closed down March to June 2020
Pennsylvania’s gross sports betting revenue in 2019/20 was a total of $135.4 million for the fiscal year.
Valley Forge Casino Resort in Pennsylvania’s Upper Merion Township posted the highest sports betting handle for the fiscal year with $993.7 million and more than $968.7 million, or 97.5% of that total came online.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) revenue did head slightly backwards however, down from $23.6 million in 2018/19 to $20.8 million in 2019/20. The slight backwards trend for DFS is easily attributable to the switch in preferences away from DFS to fully fledged sports wagering in the Keystone State in its first full year of operation. Take into account the closure of U.S. and other professional sports worldwide in the spring and early summer of 2020 and clearly the DFS number is not as bleak as viewed at first glance.
With more room for growth and larger population than its competing states, expect to continue to see the Keystone State of Pennsylvania its growth and battle national market leader New Jersey for online gaming dominance in the years to come.