Before we turn over the mic to industry leaders to get their insights on what they are excited about for 2022, let’s rewind.
Pennsylvania total gaming revenue 2006 to present
(Figures c/o the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board)
|Year||Total Gaming Revenue|
Three casinos opened in PA in 2021
2021 showed the resiliency and optimism of the Pennsylvania gambling industry. COVID-19 shut down brick-and-mortar casinos from March 2020 to June 2020 and Rivers Casino Philadelphia closed for a few weeks in December due to cases surging. Despite the shutdowns, added restrictions and construction disruptions companies eventually forged ahead with their plans to add more Pennsylvania casinos.
In Feb. 2021, the Cordish Companies opened the $700 million Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia in the heart of the South Philadelphia Stadium District. It became the second casino in the city of Philadelphia and the first with a hotel.
Penn National Gaming made its moves with mini-casinos in the latter half of 2021. Hollywood Casino York opened in August 2021 with the first Barstool Sportsbook on the East Coast. In late December, Hollywood Casino Morgantown opened. The mini-casino is visible from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and also has a Barstool Sportsbook but it’s a different style (more sports bar) than the one at Hollywood York. Both of the mini-casinos are the first Penn National properties to offer “3C’s” technology (cardless, cashless contactless). And, yes, you can still use cash at all PNG casinos.
Pennsylvania sports betting in 2021
- New sports betting launches in 2021: 1. Betway arrived in July bringing the total number of PA online sportsbooks to 13.
- Highest month by handle: $776.3 million in October 2021 (PA record)
- Highest month by revenue: $84.9 million in November (PA record)
- Percentage of bets placed online: 90%
- Top operator by handle: FanDuel
- Top operator by revenue: FanDuel
(December 2021 figures yet to be reported)
2021 recap of Pennsylvania iGaming
- New online casino launches: 4. Borgata online casino went live through its partnership with Rivers Casino Philadelphia. Valley Forge Casino brought Stardust Casino from old school Vegas to PA in April. Barstool online casino launched in late June. Betway online casino brought the number of PA iGaming options to 17.
- New poker launches: PokerStars was the only online poker in PA since Nov. 2019 and players got more options in 2021. BetMGM and Borgata launched “twin” online poker sites in late April. WSOP went live in July through its partnership with Harrah’s Philadelphia.
- Highest month by revenue: $117 million in Oct. (PA record)
- Top iGaming operator: Penn National Gaming PA brands (Hollywood Casino, DraftKings, BetMGM and Barstool) lead the pack. However, figures in PA are not broken down individually by “skin.”
- Worth noting: Live dealer arrived in PA in late Oct. 2020 and 2021 saw online casinos add more live dealer games and tables powered by Evolution Studios
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Director of Communication Doug Harbach commented on 2021:
“2021 proved both challenging and rewarding for the PGCB and the operators of gaming in the Commonwealth. The PGCB not only carried out its long-time mission of oversight of the casino industry in the midst of ongoing pandemic safety measures, but continued the roll-out of the new forms of gaming envisioned several years ago in the Gaming Expansion Act.
“In particular, three new casinos, all with retail sportsbooks, began operation in 2021 along with seven new casino iGaming or sports wagering sites, and 20 new locations for Video Gaming Terminals at truck stops. When revenue figures for December are available, it is expected that 2021 will have seen over $4.7 billion in revenue from the games overseen by the PGCB, or around 40% above the previous high revenue year.”
What’s next for sports betting and iGaming in 2022?
We asked those in the industry what they are excited about for 2022 (and beyond).
“I am most excited about the accelerated convergence of the sports and iGaming worlds. Prior to 2018, as an executive in the sports world, it was taboo to even discuss the word ‘betting’, but in 2021, SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory is now advising professional teams on their sports betting strategies and helping them gain market access in new states/provinces.
“It is incredible to see how quickly these two industries merged and will continue to integrate through betting-focused broadcasts such as NBABet Stream, sports leagues creating betting specific events (i.e. NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum), and even the creation of new leagues or events built around the consumer betting experience (such as Magic City Jai Alai x Bet Rivers). I firmly believe that these examples are only the tip of the iceberg and there are many more ways in which traditional sports and iGaming will converge that we cannot even conceive of today. I am very excited to see where the crossover goes in 2022 and beyond!”
The pandemic accelerated payment innovations
“In 2016, I was asked what I thought was the future of gaming. My answer was payments and sports betting. Now that in-person sports are back in the United States, people are eager to not only go to a game but to bet on it. I’m thrilled that States have been given the opportunity to decide how to allow sports betting. Legalized sports betting can only enhance player protection, where people have the confidence that they are with a reliable, safe and authorized operator.”
“The pandemic accelerated the growth of gaming in a number of ways, but none more so than payments. Online gaming operators have always relied on licensed payments providers for seamless access to player funds. Now, those same payments businesses are providing cashless solutions for gaming at slots, tables and sports books in addition to mobile and online wagering. I can’t wait for the day when there are more touchless machines than bill acceptors on the casino floor and fans can bet on a game from their edge of their stadium seat.”
A different kind of sports betting experience
“As the industry of sports betting and iGaming continues to evolve, I am most looking forward to the introduction of innovative products that focus on appealing to a more diverse and underserved audience. Most online wagering platforms available today are more of the same with similar structures, offerings and promotions that are designed for an obvious demographic.
“In the coming years, I believe we will begin to see a wave of differentiated platforms for customers to choose from, such as exchange wagering, which will be poised to enter the market in 2022 through Sporttrade. In addition, In-play betting will continue to be at the forefront of innovation and growth to the industry, creating an environment for bettors to enjoy a more immersive experience wagering.
“The launch of applications such as Sporttrade, will appeal to a broader audience of current and potential customers allowing for an inclusive and unique experience trading sports in real time.”
Increasing fan engagement through betting
Matt Stallknecht, Senior Manager of Sports Betting at NASCAR:
“The biggest thing I look forward to is seeing how leagues will continue to evolve their approach to the partnership side of the sports betting discipline. At NASCAR, we are working hand-in-hand with the operators and data suppliers that we are partnered with to maximize engagement around NASCAR betting– whether that be through creating new bet-types, amplifying engaging bet-types on our platforms, or creating compelling betting content. Leagues like us have a massive opportunity to increase fan engagement through sports betting – but that will only happen if we work directly with operators to improve the quality and reach of their NASCAR betting offerings. I’m intrigued to see how other leagues approach this evolving aspect of the NASCAR/operator relationship. I believe it’ll be a critical element for success in the new year and beyond as more and more states come online.”
Exciting times ahead for legal online poker in the US
Valerie Cross, content manager for PlayPennsylvania and PlayNJ was also the former associate editor of PokerNews. She gave her thoughts on what’s happening (or not) for online poker:
“Poker remains a very small part of the overall iGaming revenue picture for operators and tax dollars, held back by the inability for players in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania to compete against those in other legal online poker states. But that could be changing soon.
“A January 2021 decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a 2018 reinterpretation of the Wire Act by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The 2018 Opinion claimed that the Wire Act applied to all forms of iGaming (including online lottery and online poker) rather than just to sports betting. The window for the DOJ to appeal that ruling closed on June 21 and 26 state Attorneys General signed a letter urging the DOJ to put the issue to bed.”
Interstate poker compact
“Michigan is actively pursuing joining the interstate poker compact that Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware already have in place. Adding large population states like MI and PA to the fold would not only nearly triple the player pool, but could also accelerate other interstate iGaming features like shared progressive jackpots and live dealer games in more states. It could also entice more states to join in and pass online poker and iGaming legislation down the road.
“In the short term though, if MI and PA get on board with shared liquidity, tournament prize pools and cash games for legal online poker will begin to reach heights unseen since the days before the DOJ shut down the poker train on “Black Friday” in 2011.
2022: Sports betting bars, in-game betting, more competition
Katie Kohler is the Managing Editor at PlayPennsylvania. “What’s next?” It’s my favorite question. Here, I’m going to tell you what I’m watching and waiting for in 2022.
How will the vaccine mandates impact will impact Philadelphia casinos?
On Jan. 3, Rivers Casino Philadelphia and Live! Casino Philadelphia followed the City of Philadelphia’s vaccine mandate and require proof of vaccine and valid photo for entry. Harrah’s Philadelphia (no vaccine mandate) is 13 miles from Live and 19 miles from Rivers. Parx, which is non-smoking and does not have a vaccine mandate is 16 miles from Rivers Philadelphia and about 22 miles from Live! Philadelphia. Of course, gamblers who want to stay overnight at a hotel (and possibly smoke while they play) can choose to go to Atlantic City. How will this play out over the next few months? The revenue figures won’t lie.
Sports bars with a sports betting focus
Bankroll Club, which is being billed as “the sports betting parlor of the future” plans to open in Philadelphia in the former spot of the Boyd Theater with a Stephen Starr restaurant. PlayPennsylvania exclusively reported the Philadelphia location of the Barstool Sports bar.
Over the summer, I was having dinner at Council Oak in Atlantic City. A guy at the table next to me kept sneaking peeks at his FanDuel app. At a local sports bar during a college football Saturday, “Just Friends” was on multiple TVs instead of games. I can’t wait for Barstool Philadelphia and Bankroll to open. Especially Bankroll since Stephen Starr is running the restaurant.
A Greenwood Gaming-owned Parx mini-casino is opening in Shippensburg in 2022. The $120 million Bally’s mini-casino is going up at Nittany Mall near State College.
Since September, PA sports betting and iGaming revenue numbers have broken or flirted with breaking monthly records. Which month will be higher? January (NFL playoff games and CFB playoffs) or February (Super Bowl)?
Competition on the sports betting apps and online casinos
Do sports betting apps get more competitive with pricing on lines or is PA’s high taxes too restrictive? How fast/adaptive is your in-game product? Instead of only bonuses and offers to new customers at online casinos (and sportsbooks), how about some incentives for existing customers?
Will Hollywood Casino Morgantown poach revenue from Valley Forge Casino?
During the holidays, Hollywood Casino Morgantown set up a promotional area at King of Prussia mall which is less than two miles from Valley Forge Casino because all is fair in love, war and the battle for gambling revenue share. While Hollywood Casino Morgantown is a “mini-casino” it has a larger gaming floor (80,000 sq. ft.) than Valley Forge Casino (40,000 sq. ft). The casinos are about a half-hour ride on the PA Turnpike apart. In November 2021, Valley Forge saw its slot revenue jump 76.5% and table games revenue fell 5% YoY.
Other PA casino happenings in 2022
- Rivers Casino Pittsburgh’s $60 million hotel project, “The Landing Hotel Pittsburgh.”
- A new, permanent poker room at Wind Creek Casino.
- Golden Nugget online casino plans to launch in PA.
Lead image c/o Dreamstime