PA Had Record Gambling Year And Is About To Add More With Betfred

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Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officials confirmed Wednesday that the state set a new revenue record for the industry in 2019, and their approval of Betfred as a new sportsbook operator should only bolster the numbers this year.

A detailed financial accounting is not to be released until Thursday, but a summary offered at Wednesday’s monthly board meeting indicated a new high last year of $3.267 billion from slots and table games at the 12 casinos. The total in 2018 was $3.249 billion.

Executive Director Kevin O’Toole reported that an additional $144 mm in 2019 revenue was generated by the new forms of gambling enabled by the state’s expansion into legalized sports betting, online casino gaming, fantasy sports, and truck stop video lottery terminals.

“Clearly, that’s a good picture for the last year,” O’Toole summarized.

Wind Creek’s plans lack firm timeline

European-based Betfred was approved for a conditional sports wagering operator license as a retail and/or online partner of the Wind Creek Bethlehem once it launches sportsbook operations.

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The casino in the Lehigh Valley has given no indication, however, of when it might commence taking sports bets, gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said in an email.

“Wind Creek has yet to file a petition requesting approval to offer sports wagering,” Harbach said. “So, we have no details as of yet on their plans.”

Representatives of Wind Creek and of SCCG Management, a Las Vegas consulting firm representing Betfred in the U.S., did not respond this week to messages from Penn Bets seeking comment on their plans.

Wind Creek and BetFred potentially would expand the number of options in 2020 for Pennsylvania sports bettors beyond the eight online and 12 physical sites already operating. Two other online/mobile operations are also likely to begin this year, from Hollywood Casino/Penn National and the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia.

Wind Creek has stood out in Pennsylvania as the only large casino operator without a sportsbook. It generates the second largest revenue among the dozen casinos and is No. 1 in table games activity. It applied for a $10 mm iGaming license but has also given no indication of when online slots, table games, and poker would begin.

Formerly Sands Bethlehem, the casino changed its name after its $1.3 billion purchase in May by Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians from the Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Betfred first entered U.S. via Iowa

Pennsylvania will apparently be the second state for expansion into the U.S. by Betfred.

The company has long had a dominant presence in England, where it has built up to more than 1,600 retail shops since its start in 1967. Its Betfred.com also provides mobile wagering for sports, horse racing, and casino games.

Its entry into the U.S. followed legalization in Iowa last year, providing both retail and online betting as a sportsbook partner with Elite Casino Resorts and its Grand Falls Casino Resort.

Hollywood Casino penalized for poker tourneys

In one other piece of action Wednesday, the gaming board fined Hollywood Casino $20,000 for unauthorized poker tournaments last year.

A consent decree spelled out that the casino conducted a Labor Day tourney without prior approval, and that for several months it conducted weeknight tournaments with a $120 buy-in instead of the $80 buy-in for which it had obtained approval.

The violations were self-reported by the casino, whose officials attributed them to oversights by staff. They have now applied to conduct their popular $120 buy-in tournaments throughout the week instead of just on weekends.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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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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