Penn National, helped by DraftKings, closes in on market leader Rivers

Dreamstime/Jacglad

Pennsylvania’s legal online gambling market grew slightly in September. Total revenue for online slots, table games and poker rose 2% relative to August, setting an all-time record of just over $57 million.

That slightly increase is a bit more significant when one takes into account the fact that September is a shorter month. Correcting for the missing day, daily average revenue for September was 5.4% higher. This is similar to, though slightly better than the trend in New Jersey, so the national iGaming market seems quite steady at the moment.

In total, Pennsylvania online casinos brought in $54.7 million for the month. PokerStars, still the only online poker room in the state for the time being, contributed $2.4 million. Adding in $13.2 million from mobile sportsbooks and $3.2 million from fantasy sports brings the total for all online channels to $73.5 million.

Tax revenue from online casinos and poker amounted to $24.3 million. That’s a slight increase from August, and just over 20% of the total gaming tax revenue from all channels and verticals statewide.

Data comes from the latest report published by the PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

PA online gambling highlights: September 2020

Here’s what those PA online gambling trends look like by the numbers:

  • Online revenue from slots, casino games, and poker totaled $57,041,936 — up from $55,942,525 in August.
  • The difference in total revenue between the top two licensees shrank from 31% to just 8%.
  • PA gambling sites produced over $24 million in state and local tax revenue for the month.

Pennsylvania’s young online gambling market has only booked one monthly loss in its 15-month history. That was in June, when the state’s brick and mortar casinos began reopening following the coronavirus shutdown. It’s a very positive sign that revenue has resumed growing, even if only slowly, rather than returning to its levels in the spring.

Individual operators were fairly evenly split between gains and losses for the month. Of the nine license-holders currently active in the state, five increased their revenue in September and four saw it slip a bit.

The most dramatic increase was for Penn National, and its table games in particular. Its slots revenue increased a modest 10%, while coin in barely moved. However, table games leapt a whopping 31% in handle and 59% in revenue.

Penn has two casino skins – its own Hollywood Casino, and DraftKings – but it’s quite likely the latter that’s responsible for the gains. It launched far more recently than Hollywood, for one thing, and also emphasizes its table games to a greater degree than most online casinos.

Meanwhile, market leader Rivers saw its revenue drop 6% on the month. With a total of $14.8 million for Penn and $16.1 million for Rivers, the latter’s position atop the pile looks far more tenuous than it has at any time since before the pandemic.

PA online gambling revenue breakdown

Revenue / ∆ Monthly / ∆ Yearly:

  • Total: $57.0 million / +2% / +1279%
  • Online casinos: $54.7 million / +3% /+1222%
  • Online poker: $2.4 million / -13% / —

The Pennsylvania market has come a very long way in just a little over a year. At this time last year, there were still only three online casinos operating in the state. There are now a dozen, and even the original three have multiplied their revenue several times over.

The latest of the newcomers is PlayLive! Online Casino, which had its first full month of operation. Based on its very early results in the final days of August, it looked unlikely to be a major player in the market. That assessment has proven accurate, as its September revenue was just $104,214. It is one of four licensees in the state which have so far failed to crack $1 million in monthly revenue, the others being Caesars, Presque Isle (BetAmerica) and Wind Creek.

Online poker in Pennsylvania, on the other hand, remains a one-horse race, and at the moment, that horse is moving in the wrong direction. PokerStars saw its poker revenue more than triple from February to April, but has been dropping steadily since June.

Even so, it is still pulling in more than twice what it was in the first months of the year. There are also indications that it could soon face its first competition, whether from Partypoker, WSOP or both. The odds are good that at least one will launch before the year is out.

Detailed numbers by operator/product

Licensee Slots Tables Poker Total Change (Mo./Yr.)
Totals $39,935,329 $14,730,563 $2,376,045 $57,041,936 +2% / +1279%
Rivers Philadelphia $14,449,290 $1,665,857 $- $16,115,148 -6% / +1408%
Penn National $8,820,084 $5,942,962 $- $14,763,046 +25% / +722%
Valley Forge $5,094,629 $4,011,377 $- $9,106,005 +5% / –
Mount Airy $2,741,721 $1,481,852 $2,376,045 $6,599,619 -4% / –
Parx $5,211,343 $1,010,875 $- $6,222,218 -16% / +390%
Mohegan Sun $1,973,269 $405,808 $- $2,379,077 -21% / –
Caesars $747,710 $36,752 $- $784,462 +8% / –
Wind Creek $474,652 $87,593 $- $562,245 +163% / –
Presque Isle Downs $333,271 $72,632 $- $405,903 +1126% / –
Live! Philadelphia $89,359 $14,855 $- $104,214 +315% / –

PA online sports betting revenue

  • Total PA sports betting: $18.3 million
  • Online sports betting: $13.2 million
  • Retail sports betting: $5.1 million

In revenue terms, September was a month of decline for Pennsylvania sports betting. Retail sportsbooks increased their take from $2.8 million to $5.1 million, but that gain was erased by a drop in online revenue from $24.8 million to $13.2 million.

On the surface, that’s surprising, because the NHL finals, late stages of the NBA playoffs and beginning of the NFL season all should have stimulated betting. Indeed, sportsbooks in New Jersey had a huge month.

In fact, the reality is that betting did increase in Pennsylvania, but online bettors simply did much better than usual with their picks. Online handle rose 29%, to $414 million, more than twice the increase in retail betting. At the same time, however, the share held by the books dropped from 7.7% in August to just 3.2%.

Since August’s hold was in the normal range and September’s was abnormally low, a rebound is to be expected. Add to that the NBA finals and the first full month of NFL regular season games, and we should see a big leap in online sportsbook revenue when October’s numbers are published.

See more of September’s sports betting data at Legal Sports Report.





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