PA Gaming Review: May Brings Slight Revenue Rebound, Barstool Effect Strengthens

Written By Kevin Shelly on June 17, 2020 - Last Updated on April 1, 2021
PA gaming revenue looking up in May

The past week in Pennsylvania gaming news marks a progression in the return to normalcy.

Online casino slots and online sports betting revenue surged to fill the brick-and-mortar void caused by virus shutdowns, though online poker backed off a bit last month, state figures show.

Undeterred, PokerStars PA is launching a new summer poker series that guarantees a total of $750,000 in prize pools.

And Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports, followed by a crowd of Stoolies, is making a mark on the stock market, setting off some alarms among traders and the media.

PA online gaming revenue continued big growth last month

With record iGaming revenue of $43.1 million in April, PA online casinos posted another huge leap in May, climbing to $55.8 million, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Tuesday.

Revenue grew 35.5% month over month for online casinos (tables and slots) in the Keystone State. However, poker’s May revenue was $4.6 million, a 12.5% drop from April.

Online casino wagers were up 32.6% month over month, with more than a billion in slot play and nearly $780 million in total table games wagers in May. For slots, it was an increase of 40.5%, while table games wagers saw a 23.1% month-over-month increase.

Sportsbooks in Pennsylvania had betting handle for May of $77.5 million, a 68% increase from last month.

Sports revenue also increased from last month, from $2.8 million to $4.8 million, according to the state.

Inaugural summer poker series in PA

An 11-day series kicks off Thursday, June 18, and guarantees a total of $750,000 in prizes. The NJ version, which is running at the same time, will pay out at least $500,000.

The PokerStars PA Summer Series features 38 tournaments. The $200 Main Event and $50 Mini-Main take place on Sunday, June 28. Those come with guarantees of $150,000 and $25,000 respectively.

The majority of the events are of the no-limit hold ’em variety.

Where Portnoy leads, Stoolies follow

A raft of recent stories — in the New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, MarketWatch and others — followed a PlayPennsylvania piece from late April about the stock market and the Barstool Effect, as well as Portnoy, the online sports blog and podcast site’s founder.

So, PlayPA dipped back in and reported on Portnoy’s latest stock antics. Those antics include talking up Penn stock — he owns a chunk of the gaming company now — as well as other gambling stocks, including two that do business with Penn.

PA-based Penn National plans an entry into sports betting via the Barstool brand by year’s end.

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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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