With Casinos Reopened And Online Growing, July PA Gaming Revenue Up — Yes, Up — Over 2019

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While the long-term health impact of Pennsylvania’s casinos reopening remains to be seen, the short-term financial impact is undeniably positive.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board posted July 2020 data for all verticals on Monday, and in a year-over-year comparison with July 2019, total land-based and online gaming revenue in the state was up 0.56%, from $281.5 million last July to $283.1 million a year later. (In July 2018, the number was a similar $278.3 million.)

While most of the gaming industry is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and the related social precautions, Pennsylvania is beginning to bounce back. Brick-and-mortar gaming was down with casinos facing numerous impediments and safety-related limitations, but as was hinted at the board’s monthly meeting on Aug. 5, the decreases were manageable. And they were more than offset, as it turns out, by an online gaming industry that has grown massively in the past year and by the return of major sports to bet on toward the end of the month.

Sports betting spiked to $164.8 million, up 85% over June (similar to the 91% increase seen in neighboring New Jersey), and the highest figure in the Keystone State since February.

For sportsbooks, the worst is behind them

The month-by-month sports betting handle in PA spells out very clearly the impact of COVID on the vertical:

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MONTHWAGERING HANDLE
January$348,381,708
February$329,765,782
March$131,330,059
April$46,015,988
May$77,510,033
June$89,002,562
July$164,782,229

Sports wagering was humming along until the leagues began to shut down on March 11. It bottomed out in April, and finally began to resemble its former self in July, with Major League Baseball playing for nine days and the NBA resuming for the month’s final two days. A full month of baseball, basketball, and hockey could very well lead to another approximate doubling of handle in August.

From July’s $164.8 million in handle the sportsbooks earned revenue of $8.1 million (after subtracting from the raw $13.6 million in winnings the $5.5 million of promotional credits given away). Just $9.4 million of the total handle — 5.7% — came at retail sportsbooks. The other 94.3% was wagered on computers and mobile devices.

The online FanDuel Sportsbook led the way with $68.8 million in betting handle, followed by DraftKings Sportsbook, a distant second with $39.1 million wagered online. Other contenders included the PlaySugarHouse mobile book connected to Rivers Philadelphia ($12.7 million), sister sportsbook BetRivers connected to Rivers Pittsburgh ($10.4 million), FOX Bet ($11.9 million), and Parx Casino ($9.1 million online and a state-best $2.2 million in retail wagers).

If you reopen it, they will come (more or less)

While brick-and-mortar sports betting numbers weren’t worth getting excited about in July, in-person table games and slots performed well, given the circumstances.

Casino slot machine revenue at the state’s 12 properties — most of which were open for most of the month, although with 50% capacity limits and strict dining/drinking/smoking rules — totaled $165 million, down a mere 17.3% from July 2019’s $199.6 million.

Table game revenue fell a steeper 31.8%, as one might expect given the more social nature of blackjack, craps, roulette, etc., and the somewhat off-putting plexiglass dividers at the tables. Total revenue for those table games was $52.5 million, a good bit off the $77 million posted in July 2019 — but, of course, a whole lot better than the April-June figures.

Parx Casino in Bensalem, which reopened June 29, remains the top casino in the state for both slots and table games revenue, raking $36.2 million and $15.1 million in July in those two areas, respectively.

Online casino humming along

Online casino made up almost all of the difference that land-based games sacrificed. It’s a vertical that had barely gotten off the ground in July 2019, with a mere three sites generating $812,306 in revenue.

The number of sites tripled to nine by July 2020 (Wind Creek launched late in the month and Play Live! will be part of the August numbers), and together they produced $51.3 million in revenue. That’s up slightly from June’s $50.1 million but down from May’s record $55.8 million. The reopening of land-based casinos has stalled the upward trajectory of the online option, as one might expect.

Of the $51.3 million revenue figure, $39.4 million came from online slots, while virtual table games accounted for $11.9 million.

The two Rivers properties, which report as one entity for online casino purposes, are collectively leading the way in the state in terms of amounts wagered and revenue.

Online poker revenue from the state’s lone site, PokerStars, came in at $2.99 million, a small but predictable dip from the $3.24 million generated a month earlier.

Other quick notes: Daily fantasy sports revenue for July was $925,738, with DraftKings ($673k) and FanDuel ($250k) absorbing a combined 99.7% of that total; and video gaming terminals (VGTs) produced $2.1 million in revenue.

Photo by Shutterstock.com

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Eric Raskin

Eric is a veteran writer, editor, and podcaster in the sports and gaming industries. He was the editor-in-chief of the poker magazine All In for nearly a decade, is the author of the book The Moneymaker Effect, and has contributed to such outlets as ESPN.com, Grantland.com, and Playboy.

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