PA Gaming Review: All Casinos Now Open, Online Gambling Still King in Revenue

Posted on July 22, 2020 - Last Updated on August 31, 2020

The last week in the Pennsylvania gaming industry was a mixed bag as adjustments to the new normal continue.

On the plus side, DraftKings online casino debuted a stand-alone app, and others are prepping to enter the hot PA online casino market.

The last brick-and-mortar casino to reopen welcomed customers back in Philly, but there is no smoking or drinking in any of the state’s casinos, and many facilities are laying off employees. Online revenue streams remained strong in June even as casinos reopened.

And while sports are preparing to resume, minus fans in attendance, Philly has canceled all large-scale events through the end of February, making the future murky when it comes to the Eagles and the Army-Navy game set for Dec. 12.

DraftKings debuts a stand-alone casino app

DraftKings launched a stand-alone mobile casino app a week ago. But the DraftKings Casino app is available only on iOS, not for Android or other devices. The new app comes from a partnership with Hollywood Casino.

The new app is integrated with DraftKings’ sportsbook, which went live in May, and has a shared wallet.

Meanwhile, the online plans for BetMGM, Golden Nugget, Live! and Wind Creek are also moving ahead.

Last PA casino reopens in Philly

Rivers Philadelphia Casino became the last of PA’s casinos to reopen on July 17, but with a bunch of restrictions.

Like other casinos, there’s no smoking or drinking, and there are limits on capacity and contact. And only half of the staff is back.

Layoffs are a new reality, with job losses expected at Valley Forge Casino. Penn National and its Hollywood casino cut staff in June, and others have done or will do the same.

Philly bans large events and muddies the water for Eagles and Army-Navy

The Army-Navy game this year scheduled for Dec. 12 in Philadelphia might have no spectators. And if it has fans, how many are still TBD. The city banned all large events through Feb. 28.

Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, said this game gets lots of betting interest and is the single most important game on both team’s schedules.

Will spectators be allowed for that game or for Eagles games, which also are played at the Linc? And if so, how many will be allowed?

It’s unclear. A spokeswoman for the city told PlayPA, “This is a fluid situation, and this policy is under constant review.”

Revenue has shifted faster to online

June iGaming revenue totaled $50 million, down a bit from an all-time high of $55.8 million in May.

June slots and table games revenue was $46.8 million, with $21.5 million going to state and local taxes. Online poker had June revenue of $3.2 million.

Total wagers for online slots in PA surpassed $1 billion for the second month in a row — more than double pre-pandemic play.

Meanwhile, the sports betting handle for June was $89 million, up from $77.5 million the previous month. Revenue also increased to $7.9 million from $4.8 million in May.

Sports betting revenue should soon see greater gains as major sports make their way back, starting with MLB opening day tomorrow.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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