iGaming and Sportsbooks Are Heroes of 2019-20 PA Revenue Report — And We All Know the Villain

Posted on September 30, 2020 - Last Updated on October 24, 2020

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released its 2019-2020 Annual Report. The in-depth report details all aspects of the gambling industry in the state, including:

  • Revenue figures for slot machines, table games, sports wagering, internet gaming, fantasy sports contests and video gaming terminal gross revenue
  • Up-to-date status on gaming expansion initiatives, including casino construction
  • A year in review report with statistical figures from the PGCB’s key bureaus
  • PGCB revenue, expenditures and employment breakdown
  • Stats on problem gaming and the self-exclusion program

Of course, like every other industry, casinos in Pennsylvania were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. All 12 brick-and-mortar casinos closed for about three months to slow the spread of the virus. The PGCB added a special report to this year’s edition to detail the impact of COVID-19 on PA’s casinos.

PA online gaming surge amid land-based shutdowns

Pennsylvania, only one of three states with iGaming, saw a surge in online play. The loss of revenue from brick-and-mortar closures was devastating, but it could have been much worse without iGaming and the growth of sports betting.

David Barasch, PGCB chairman, said in the report’s Chairman’s Message:

“To describe Fiscal Year 2019-2020 as different would be a massive understatement. The health and safety restrictions needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic were debilitating for Pennsylvania’s land-based gaming industry. This led to significant revenue loss and temporary unemployment for thousands of industry workers.”

He continued by saying that the good news came in the form of online casinos and sports wagering, which provided people a legal way to gamble beyond the casinos.

Historic year for gambling in Pennsylvania

The 2019-20 fiscal year proved to be a historic one for gambling in Pennsylvania. The first iGaming site launched in July 2019 (SugarHouse) and was followed by eight more operators throughout the fiscal year. Sports betting had already started prior to FY 2019-20 but beefed up its roster with six new online sportsbooks and four retail spots.

Video gaming terminals (VGTs) also arrived in Pennsylvania at qualified truck stops throughout the state. Currently, there are 28 VGTs.

PGCB is busy

Most of the PGCB staff have returned to work after coronavirus shutdowns led to layoffs or temporary furloughs. The PGCB ensures the integrity of gaming in the commonwealth.

Here are some figures about the PGCB’s work this FY:

  • 800 patron complaints investigated.
  • 1,000 people signed up for the self-exclusion program.
  • 8,000 credentials issued to individuals working in varying aspects of the casino industry. All applicants have to meet the requirements of the Gaming Act.
  • 5,529 pay tables reviewed.
  • 9,142 sports wagering types reviewed.
  • Eight monthly public meetings held virtually since March. You can watch them here.

The following are statewide revenue breakdowns for FY 2019-20.

Slot revenue

 FY 2019/2020FY 2018/2019% Change
Slot Revenue$1.70 billion$2.38 billion-28%
Tax revenue$875.3 million$1.24 billion-29%
Slot win per day$227$252-11%
# of machines23,40424,869

Table games revenue

 FY 2019/2020FY 2018/2019% Change
Table Games Revenue$644.5 million $885.6 million -27%
Tax revenue$103.6 million $142.4 million -27%
Total table games1,2731,286

Sports betting revenue

 FY 2019/2020FY 2018/2019% Change
Handle $2.29 billion $244.7 million 834%
Online revenue$85.3 million$408,00020,825%
Retail revenue$28.4 million $21.3 million 33%
Tax revenue$41 million $7.8 million423%

iGaming revenue

 FY 2019/2020FY 2018/2019
iGaming Revenue$240.9 million n/a
Online Slot revenue $153.6 million n/a
Online Table revenue$62.6 million n/a
Online Poker revenue$24.6 million n/a
iGaming tax$97.2 million n/a

Slot revenue by operator in PA

OperatorSlot Revenue
Parx Casino $300.4 million
Rivers Casino Pittsburgh $226.4 million
Wind Creek $187.9 million
Hollywood Casino $147.7 million
The Meadows$144.9 million
Mohegan Sun Pocono$140.9 million
Harrah's Philadelphia$136.1 million
Rivers Casino Philadelphia$123.6 million
Mount Airy Casino $109.4 million
Presque Isle Downs$80.9 million
Valley Forge Casino $75.1 million
Lady Luck Nemacolin $24.5 million

The following are breakdowns by operator for each form of gaming for FY 2019/2020.

Table games revenue by operator in PA

OperatorTable Games Revenue
Wind Creek Casino$160.8 million
Parx Casino $137.9 million
Rivers Casino Philadelphia $94.5 million
Rivers Casino Pittsburgh $63.7 million
Harrah's Philadelphia$42.4 million
Mount Airy Casino $28.2 million
Hollywood Casino $27.6 million
Valley Forge Casino$26.6 million
Mohegan Sun Pocono $24.6 million
The Meadows$24.5 million
Presque Isle Downs$10.9 million
Lady Luck Nemacolin $3 million

Sports betting online revenue by operator

OperatorOnline Sports Betting Revenue
FanDuel (Valley Forge Casino) $39.5 million
BetRivers (Rivers Casino Philadelphia) $12.1 million
DraftKings (The Meadows) $10.1 million
Parx Casino $10 million
BetRivers (Rivers Casino Pittsburgh)$8.1 million
FoxBet (Mount Airy Casino)$5.3 million
Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono) $228,000
BetAmerica (Presque Isle Downs)$153,000
Caesars (Harrah's Philadelphia)-$17,000

iGaming revenue by PA operator

OperatorOnline Casino Revenue
BetRivers (Rivers Casino Philadelphia) $73.2 million
PokerStars (Mount Airy Casino)$48.8 million
Hollywood Casino$38.4 million
FanDuel (Valley Forge Casino) $37.5 million
Parx Casino$30.2 million
DraftKings (The Meadows) $24.5 million
Unibet (Mohegan Sun Pocono) $9.6 million
BetAmerica (Presque Isle Downs)$1.4 million
Caesars (Harrah's Philadelphia)$1.9 million

Impact on PA casinos

For gaming in Pennsylvania, it’s a tale of two calendars. The 2019 calendar year set a record for overall gambling revenue, hitting $3.4 billion, 4.5% more than 2018. However, due to the coronavirus closures, FY 2019-20 resulted in an 18% drop in revenue.

The PGCB reported that the two-and-a-half-month closures of casinos subtracted $265 million in anticipated tax revenue.

In addition to the loss of revenue for casinos and tax coffers, most of Pennsylvania’s 16,000 casino workers were furloughed. According to the PGCB Diversity Report, more than 60% of the furloughed employees to work. In June 2019, PA casinos employed 16,717. COVID-19 closures and cutbacks resulted in a reduction to 9,883 employees.

Casinos are slowly returning to capacity, but COVID-19 safety guidelines and limited capacity will continue to affect land-based revenues into the next fiscal year.

Lead image credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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