Across The Board, Gaming Activity Fell In June In Pennsylvania From Month Before

Sportsbooks themselves saw more revenue, but gaming volume was down in person and online
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Pennsylvania’s legal gambling activity dropped by every measure in June from the month before, whether evaluating the gaming people did in person or online.

The monthly report released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Monday morning showed iCasino revenue was down 12.2% from May, to $88.9 million; retail casino revenue was off 6.5%, to $260.6 million; and the sports betting handle was down 6.1%, to $420.2 million, although the sportsbooks’ taxable revenue increased by 23.5% to $34.2 million.

Overall, the revenue generated from gaming in the state dipped below $400 million for the first time in several months, totaling $388.9 million in June. Taxes for state and local governments, which amount to a little more than 40% of the proceeds, totaled $157.5 million for the month.

The month also completed a 2020-21 fiscal year that reached a record $3.875 billion in gaming revenue, the state board reported. The previous high was $3.3 billion in 2018-19, after which the gaming industry experienced a decline the following year due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

While COVID’s impacts also lingered for the economy and in-person casino visits in 2020-21, the surge in online gaming has sent revenue to new highs. Based on the first half of 2021, the calendar year should for the first time finish well above $4 billion in overall revenue.

Online casino play at lowest since February

Perhaps the most surprising slide in the June numbers came on the iGaming front, where a record $101.3 million had been generated in May.

The $88.9 million in June revenue from online slots, table games, and poker play wasn’t just less than in May (with its additional calendar day to boost numbers) but was down from March ($97.7 million) and April ($92.7 million) as well. Even with a new high of 17 total iGaming sites in operation, June marked the first dip below $90 million in revenue since February.

The iGaming operators are still on track to obtain well more than $1 billion from players in 2021, which is a huge plus for the companies and the state, but the new figures make it seem unlikely that $100 million monthly will be any regular plateau. That threshold is one that iGaming operators in neighboring New Jersey have surpassed regularly.

Even having a second iPoker site in BetMGM/Borgata has done little for iGaming revenue, as the $2.4 million in combined monthly poker revenue with the longer-running PokerStars site was down nearly $200,000 from May and lower than in most of the months in which PokerStars operated alone. The BetMGM/Borgata share of the June number was $404,264 compared to just over $2 million for PokerStars.

WSOP PA has become a third site in July, and the revenue from its operation will only become evident in next month’s revenue report.

Due to the way Pennsylvania lists multiple iCasino sites under a single land-based casino’s license and revenue figures, it is not possible to identify how individual sites are doing month to month and compared to one another.

The report shows the sites grouped together under Hollywood Casino’s license as tops in revenue in the state, with $34.9 million in June, and those under Rivers Casino Philadelphia’s license as next highest at $23.3 million.

BetMGM leapfrogs Barstool in sports wagers

Aside from increased revenue across the board for sportsbooks in June, the most notable aspect was BetMGM surpassing Penn National’s Barstool Sportsbook in volume for the first time since the former’s December launch.

While overall handle was down across the 13 online sites, BetMGM increased 15.4% to $37.4 million in bets taken, placing it third behind FanDuel ($162.5 million) and DraftKings ($87.5 million). Barstool had been third since its arrival last September, but its handle dropped 26.8% to $31.9 million. DraftKings’ number was also down significantly, off 13.7% from May.

The June numbers gave FanDuel 42.8% of the market, followed by DraftKings at 23.1%, BetMGM at 9.9%, and Barstool at 8.4%. The other online sites combined for about 16%.

Despite the lower betting volume in June, which is a common occurrence in summer months across the country from the diminished sports calendar, the revenue number of $34.2 million statewide was the highest since November. It meant that sports bettors generally were less successful with their gambling.

In fact, if not for $8.3 million issued in promotional credits, the sportsbooks would have retained $42.5 million from bettors. That indicated a record high hold percentage of 10.1% from bettors by the sportsbooks.

Of the $420.2 million in wagers, $379.3 million — or 90.3% — was placed online rather than at retail sportsbooks.

Land-based activity lagging pre-pandemic levels

The brick-and-mortar casinos continue to see gaming volume below the level of activity that was taking place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was responsible for closing casinos for all or part of June 2020. (They reopened last year on different schedules.)

Compared to June 2019, last month’s casino slots and table revenue of $260.6 million was down from $267.7 million. And that’s even with two more casinos operating this year, the Live! properties in Philadelphia and Westmoreland County.

If their June revenue is deducted, the monthly figure was $233.2 million for the same 12 properties as operated in June 2019, or 12.9% less.

Photo: Shutterstock

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