PA Online Gaming’s Growth Pace Slowed In May, But It Still Reached A New High

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Pennsylvanians’ shift to online gambling to grapple with the shutdown of their regular casinos continued in May, propelling iCasinos to a new high of $55.8 million in monthly revenue.

While that was again a record for an industry less than a year old in Pennsylvania, it represented a slowdown in growth, according to the figures posted Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

May’s online casino revenue was 29.5% more than the $43.1 million in April, whereas that April figure was 73% higher than the month before.

The remarkable growth rate in April seems unlikely to be matched again, now that people are venturing outside home more in the wake of eased COVID-19 restrictions. Three of the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos also reopened last week, with three more preparing to greet customers again soon.

Sports wagering, meanwhile, saw a 68.5% rebound to $77.5 million in handle among the state’s nine online/mobile sites in May. The betting volume had sunk to $46 million in April, a month likely to long stand as the worst period for legalized sports betting, considering how few traditional sports and leagues were in action due to coronavirus concerns.

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For the second straight month, there was no brick-and-mortar gaming revenue in the state, which normally amounts to $270 million monthly, with some 40% of that siphoned off as government taxes.

All 10 sites operating for first full month

May was the first time all 10 Pennsylvania online casinos operated for the full month, after the additions of the Caesars and DraftKings iCasinos in late April.

Combined, the 10 sites took in $38.8 million from slot play and $12.4 million from table games.

The one poker site, PokerStars, earned $4.6 million for the month, which was actually off 12.5% from its record of $5.3 million reached in April.

With its combined revenue from poker, slots, and table games, PokerStars posted May revenue of $10.9 million that was second in the state.

Because they operate under a single license, the state combined the revenue from two Rush Street Interactive sites — PlaySugarhouse and BetRivers — to list them as first in the state with $17.6 million in May revenue.

They were followed in iCasino revenue by FanDuel ($8 million), Parx ($6.9 million), Hollywood ($5.3 million), DraftKings ($3.7 million), Unibet ($2.4 million), Caesars ($931,315), and BetAmerica ($137,001).

DraftKings closes gap again in sports wagers

In sports betting, DraftKings continued its trend of gaining on state leader FanDuel.

DraftKings’ volume totaled $21.8 million in May, up 72.9% from April, while FanDuel increased 56% to $29.6 million.

Together, the two sites with their massive number of longtime followers from fantasy sports take about two-thirds of the online sports bets placed in Pennsylvania. But DraftKings now has 28.1% of the online betting handle compared to 38.2% for FanDuel, and that is the closest they have been since DraftKings launched in November in affiliation with Meadows Racetrack & Casino and its owner, Penn National Gaming. At one time, FanDuel was receiving more than half the online betting action in Pennsylvania.

PlaySugarhouse attracted the next most online sports betting behind FanDuel and DraftKings with $8.5 million in May handle. It was followed by FOX Bet ($7.8 million), BetRivers ($4.9 million), Parx ($3.8 million), Unibet ($714,400), BetAmerica ($265,938), and Caesars ($143,991).

Gross taxable revenue from sports betting amounted to $4.8 million for the month, up from $2.9 million in April.

In both months, sports betting was only possible online in Pennsylvania due to the shutdown of casinos. Retail sports betting is now possible again at the Meadows and the Pittsburgh Rivers Casino, though activity remains slow due to continued suspension of the major U.S. sports.

Overall, the $77.5 million wagered legally on sports in Pennsylvania in May is off dramatically from the record high of $348.4 million in January. June might be another slow month, but with the anticipated return of major sports afterward, the monthly figures should escalate sharply by late summer.

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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