The $113.3 million in revenue reported by Pennsylvania’s 18 iCasinos in May was not a record — they collected nearly $5 million more in March — but it highlighted the stability now common for this integral part of the state’s gaming industry.
While the May revenue was nearly identical to the $113.1 million reported in April, it marked the sixth straight month and seventh of the past eight in which online casino play collectively exceeded $100 million for the state’s operators. The figure was also $12 million higher than in May 2021, which happened to be the first month since iGaming began in 2019 that the $100 million threshold was reached.
In the first five months of 2022, the iCasinos have claimed a total of $555.2 million from gamblers, or about $110 million monthly. It’s also about $20 million more monthly than was averaged in January-May of 2021.
That difference carries special significance, in that online casinos represent the major growth sector in Pennsylvania’s commercial gaming industry. The retail casinos themselves generate a lot more revenue, but that total year-to-year is basically flat. And while sports gambling attracts more attention in the public’s eye, the revenue it generates is far less than from iCasinos and also subject to a lot more seasonal and monthly variation, based on the sports calendar and how skillful bettors are in picking winners.
On pace for $1.3 billion out of $5 billion
In 2021, when the state’s gaming industry totaled a record $4.73 billion in revenue, online casinos were responsible for $1.11 billion of it — less than half the amount from retail slots, but more than the total from retail table games and more than three times as much as from sports betting.
Now the state is on pace to clear $5 billion in gaming revenue in 2022, and most of that increase will be from those using their phones or computers to play slots, table games, or online poker. If the early 2022 trend continues, those doing the digital gambling will lose more than $1.3 billion to the operators by year’s end.
What’s critical to the state, and its taxpayers, is it’s not just the gaming companies that see the profits from online games. Through a blended tax rate that amounts to about 41% for the various online options, the state’s share of revenue from them should end up exceeding $540 million in 2022. That’s a rather hefty sum for which the state’s budget planners would have had to somehow find a different source if 2017 legislation had not made Pennsylvania one of the few states in the nation to legalize online casino games.
Individual operator revenue isn’t publicized
While it’s easy each month to compare how individual sports betting operators fare in the state, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s public revenue reports do not allow for that with iCasinos. Various license holders have partnerships with multiple online gaming operators, all of whose revenue is lumped for reporting purposes under the licensee’s name.
Consistently, Hollywood Casino, Rivers Casino Philadelphia, and Valley Forge Casino Resort are listed as far and away the top monthly revenue generators as licensees, but all have multiple online sites connected to them through their various financial partnerships, in which revenue is shared. In May, the sites using Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino license generated $45.5 million in revenue, those using Rush Street Gaming’s Rivers Casino generated $26.9 million, and those using Boyd Gaming’s Valley Forge license made $21.2 million.
In most cases, successful iCasino sites share the platform of major sports betting operators, with companies such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM making a lot of their money from sports bettors who can easily cross over to use their same online wallet to play blackjack or a favorite slot game, and vice versa.
Just like in the brick-and-mortar casinos, most of the money gets made from slots play. To account for May’s $113.3 million in revenue, $78.2 million came from slots, $32.3 million from table games such as blackjack and roulette, and $2.8 million from poker.
In one other distinctive aspect of the state’s public reporting method for online casinos, the gaming board’s monthly figures show what the operators have won after subtractions for the promotional credits given to players for sign-up bonuses and other play incentives. In May, those credits amounted to $23.5 million, as the gross winnings among operators collectively added up to $136.8 million.
Unlike the $113.3 million officially reported by the state from iGaming, that $136.8 million last month would be higher than either the $136 million reported by New Jersey or the $127.4 million grossed by operators in Michigan, which are the two other largest states to have legalized online casinos.