The Pennsylvania gambling industry is among the top markets in the country. There are several stories that are likely to shape the industry over the 2023 calendar year.
Pennsylvania had a banner year as both PA sportsbooks and online casinos broke handle records toward the end of 2022 and show no signs of slowing down.
More sports betting apps and casinos are expected to launch in 2023, among other developments.
Casinos are still fighting unregulated skill games, an update on mini-casinos and the interstate poker compact, along with the competition between DraftKings PA sportsbook and FanDuel PA sportsbook remain.
Skill games drama in Pennsylvania
Skill games have been a topic of discussion for years in Pennsylvania without much of a decision being made.
As of now, skill games remain in operation, but unregulated, and seem to be growing across convenient stores, restaurants and bars throughout the state.
On multiple occasions, skill games had been seized from select counties in the state, but were returned after the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania admitted to “no wrongdoing.”
Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden has made public attempts to condemn skill games, stating, “this is an existential issue for the industry” at a G2E keynote session last October.
The argument of keeping skill games around is that they are not gambling devices, though several PA casinos have decreased slot machines in 2022 because of how skill games operate as slots.
There is no clear path in terms of the direction of skill games in PA. Right now, they are still around and running rampant.
There are several lawsuits between skill game developers and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE) and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). A clear decision one way or the other does not seem imminent.
When will PA enter into the interstate poker compact?
PA poker players have been wondering for months whether PA would join an interstate poker compact. Doing so would merge player pools with other states offering legal online poker in the US.
Michigan players have that question answered. In April 2022, Michigan announced that it would allow interstate play starting Jan. 1 of this year. PokerStars will combine player pools from Michigan and New Jersey.
While there’s no update according to PGCB Communications Director Doug Harbach, he said back in May that the Governor’s office is the ultimate authority on such an agreement taking place. Since the administration is transitioning from Gov. Wolf to Gov. Shapiro, a decision in the next month or so is not imminent. However, once Shaprio gets settled, there could be clarification sooner rather than later.
Updates on PA mini-casinos
PA mini-casinos have been on the rise with three opening since 2020:
- Live! Casino Pittsburgh
- Hollywood Casino York
- Hollywood Casino Morgantown
The plan to open 10 new mini-casinos over the next several years fell through, however, two more are expected to open in 2023.
State College Casino has seen its ups and downs in the news cycle in 2022, but figures to finally gain more clarity in 2023.
The holdup with State College Casino is whether Ira Lubert improperly partnered with ineligible parties to win the license for this casino. On top of that, the town of State College is mostly against the idea of the casino.
Though the PGCB allowed the State College Casino petition in December 2022, the board granted the right for Stadium Casino RE, LLC to intervene in the matter of SC Gaming’s mini-casino application hearing. Stadium Casino RE, LLC, the losing bidder to Lubert’s SC Gaming, is denied the right to introduce limited discovery.
New PA online casinos set to launch this year
Pennsylvania is soon to have 19 PA online casinos with more on the way. According to the PGCB’s annual report, the board may approve the launch of up to 10 additional online casinos in FY 2022/23.
Golden Nugget Casino PA is expected to launch shortly after WynnBet. It still needs approval from the PGCB, which still has Golden Nugget’s license application as a Qualified Gaming Entity as pending as of Oct. 26, 2022.
Golden Nugget’s merger with DraftKings in May became crucial in the process of launching an online casino. DraftKings announced during its Q3 earnings call that its integration of Golden Nugget onto the DraftKings platform is on track to finish in the second half of 2023.
Several more online casinos have current application statuses of “pending,” which include:
- High 5 Casino
- Tropicana Casino
- Bally Casino
- PlayStar Casino
- Bet365 Casino
- Fanatics Casino
- Hard Rock Casino
- Virgin Casino
More information on the above licenses should be made available throughout 2023.
PA sports betting market share battle between DraftKings and FanDuel
Pennsylvania set an all-time record for sportsbook handle in October 2022.
The two operators that dominate the market share in PA are FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.
FanDuel regularly features a market share of 38%-42%, an advantage of about 10% in handle over its competitor, however, DraftKings closed the gap in September 2022 recording $207.5 million to FanDuel’s $212.9 million handle.
A bunch of new app enhancements helped DraftKings in September 2022, but it has not gotten that close since.
Nothing much should change from a sports betting standpoint in 2023, but it will be interesting to see if DraftKings can replicate its September success to put consistent pressure on FanDuel. Both sportsbooks added flash betting markets in 2022, making live betting easier and more accessible than ever.
PlayPennsylvania will you keep you updated on all of these stories going forward in 2023.