The Pennsylvania online casino market is still a long way from maturity, but August provided a more comprehensive snapshot than July, when the state’s three mobile casinos were only in business for about half the month.
And what the numbers for the first full month of online casino indicate is that handle and revenue are picking up only slightly over the modest pace they started at in July.
Wagering on virtual slots increased from $23.8 mm from July 15-31 to $62 mm from August 1-31, an improvement from $1.4 mm per day to $2 mm per day. Customers are winning at a lower rate, however, as slots revenue quintupled from $518k in July to $2.526 mm in August.
The table games uptick was less pronounced. Players wagered $25.5 mm in half of July and $49.8 mm in all of August. That means they went from putting $1.5 mm in play per day in July to $1.6 mm the following month. And bear in mind that the first days of July action had restricted “soft launch” hours, rendering the August number even more flat than it appears at first glance. Revenue did more than triple, though, from $295k to $903k. Again, customers are winning less frequently — or perhaps they’re just not benefiting from deposit bonuses as much.
It’s notable, though, that table games are more or less keeping pace with slots despite there being so few table games on offer. None of the online casinos significantly increased their game offerings in August. The current composition is as follows:
- Hollywood Casino: 65 slots, five roulette games, one baccarat, one blackjack, nine video poker varieties
- Parx Casino: 45 slots, three roulette games, one blackjack, one video poker
- Play SugarHouse: 42 slots, three roulette games
Compared to sports betting
With total wagering handle of $111.8 mm across slots and (that limited selection of) table games, online casino outdrew online sports betting in August, which attracted $83.2 mm in wagers.
However, the hold in sports betting was superior — which might seem somewhat surprising given that sports betting is viewed as a potentially beatable game and the games on a casino floor have a clearly defined house edge. Online/mobile sports betting revenue for the month of August was $6.3 mm, far better than the $3.4 mm for online casino.
That sports betting hold, however, includes futures bets. So whatever portion of the $83.2 mm was dedicated to season-long NFL or college football bets, not to mention late-season futures on MLB teams or season-long bets on NBA or NHL, looks like “revenue” now but might not look that way a few months from now.
SugarHouse winning slots, Parx winning tables
The handle by operator in August tells an interesting story:
|Online slots handle||Online table games handle|
|Play SugarHouse||$31.3 mm||$9.6 mm|
|Parx Casino||$17.6 mm||$35.5 mm|
|Hollywood Casino||$13.1 mm||$4.6 mm|
We can see that Penn National’s Hollywood Casino is a distant third, despite having the most game offerings. Hollywood undoubtedly lags behind in brand recognition and in functionality.
Parx’s massive edge over SugarHouse in table games makes clear that players in Pennsylvania want access to blackjack. The $5 minimum for Parx’s blackjack offering — in New Jersey, online casinos offer the game for as low as a dime a hand — seems to be juicing the handle effectively.
SugarHouse, meanwhile, is drawing more slots play than its two competitors combined.
PA vs. NJ
Nobody expects Pennsylvania’s online casino market to come close yet to New Jersey’s, which has been active for more than five years and where internet gaming win for August was over $41 mm.
A more reasonable comparison is between Pennsylvania now and New Jersey in its first couple of months.
There were more online operators in the Garden State right out of the gate, and collectively they earned $4.5 mm in revenue in December 2013, the first full month of operation. In January 2014, that figure increased to $6 mm.
At $3.4 mm last month, Pennsylvania online casinos are off to a slower start. More operators and, most importantly, wider game selection, including first-rate table games like New Jersey has, will make a big difference.
Online poker is still anticipated to launch in Pennsylvania within the next few weeks.
Fantastic news for fantasy
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board proudly reported a major upswing for regulated daily fantasy sites in the state in August, with revenue increasing 47% over August 2018.
DraftKings was up 51% to $755,952, and FanDuel increased 44% to $610,019. Combined, the two DFS giants accounted for 98.4% of the $1,388,631 in revenue in the state.
Why the significant increase in DFS action from one year to the next? The most logical conclusion is that the addition of legal sports betting is boosting interest in daily fantasy.
This is just a one-month snapshot, but it seems concerns that DFS players would dedicate their bankrolls to sports betting instead are unfounded and the various rising tides are rising together and spilling over into one another.
Photo by Shutterstock.com