Sports Betting Effect? Pennsylvania Gambling Market Up 3.2% In January

Sports betting helped the Pennsylvania gambling market make a major turnaround in January. Revenue was up 3.2% after falling in January 2018.
Heinz Pittsburgh PA

The Pennsylvania gambling market is off to a strong start in 2019.

According to figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the state’s slot machines, table games, and sportsbooks generated a combined $256,859,050 in January, up 3.2% over the $248,827,400 generated in January 2018. 

The first Pennsylvania sportsbook opened in November, and in January there were six books in operation. January sports betting revenue was $2,607,205. The market for that game is still in its infancy and will continue to grow as more sportsbooks open.

Table games accounted for $74,409,695, up 4.7% year-over-year from $71,032,273. Slot revenue of $179,842,150 was up 1.1% from $177,795,127.

How solid is the 3.2% uptick?

In January 2018, the Pennsylvania casino gambling market experienced a contraction of 1.6% compared to January 2017.  The contraction in January 2018 set the state up for a lackluster year.

The state’s 12 casinos won a combined $3,248,681,377 from slot and table game gamblers last year, up a mere 0.67% over 2017. The state’s casino market was up less than 3% since 2012.

Table game revenue fell in 2018 for the first time in state history, so the 4.7% gain for those games last month bodes well for a comeback year.

Pennsylvania has yet to launch online/mobile sports betting, as well as online casino platforms, but both are expected to debut in the first half of 2019 (assuming no significant delays thanks to the federal government’s Wire Act memo). Those offerings will dramatically grow the state’s casino gambling market.

The Keystone State’s casino gambling market last year was an all-time high for the state, but nationwide commercial casino revenue growth far outpaced Pennsylvania’s. Commercial casinos in the U.S. won more $42.7 billion in 2018, 3% more than what was won in 2017. Pennsylvania was among the worst performing commercial casino states last year.

A rising tide lifts all boats

The buzz around Pennsylvania sports betting is bringing new customers to the state’s casino-resorts. The increased visitation will continue to grow table game revenue, as the sports betting and table game demographics overlap. The one-armed bandits in the brick-and-mortars should experience a boost as well, albeit to a lesser extent than the tables.

As mentioned, the launch of online slots and online table games will be a game-changer for the state. In New Jersey, those games generated revenue of $277,307,607 in 2018, up a whopping 25.3% over 2017. The growth there far outpaced the 4% growth for brick-and-mortar casinos in the Garden State. Online sports betting has also been a boon for the Garden State, now accounting for roughly 80% of sports betting handle. This figure bodes exceedingly well for Pennsylvania, which can now be confident that when it does finally go live with online wagering, it’ll boost its gaming win by a material margin.

It was only a handful of years ago when Pennsylvania overtook New Jersey in terms of gaming revenue. New Jersey nearly hit $3 billion in gaming revenue last year, closing the gap significantly with Pennsylvania. However, Pennsylvania should create greater market separation this year.

Editorial credit: EQRoy /


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