Pennsylvania Casino Poker Market Contracts 3.8% Through June

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Pennsylvania’s first online casinos launched last week, with more expected in the coming weeks/months. The state legalized several forms of online gambling, including sports betting, slots, table games, and peer-to-peer poker. Only online poker hasn’t launched yet.

Late last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released revenue figures from the state’s casino industry, including data on the state’s live poker market, which comes from 10 brick-and-mortar poker rooms. Those rooms have 224 tables combined.

The poker rooms collected $4,216,506 in rake last month, down 5.1% compared to the $4,442,674 in revenue from June 2018. Through June, the PA poker market has fallen year-over-year in five of the six months, according to the PGCB figures. Rake is down 3.8%.

Here’s a look at each month in a year-over-year comparison:

2018

  • January: $4,634,979
  • February: $4,674,312
  • March: $5,490,882
  • April: $4,624,027
  • May: $4,747,074
  • June: $4,442,674

Total: $28,613,948

2019

  • January: $4,415,969
  • February: $4,722,116
  • March: $5,015,799
  • April: $4,467,514
  • May: $4,692,216
  • June: $4,216,506

Total: $27,530,120

Rake by room

Here’s a look at June revenue by PA poker room:

  • Parx (48 tables): $1,308,741 (-1.2% y-o-y)
  • SugarHouse (28 tables): $702,830 (+19.9% y-o-y)
  • Wind Creek Bethlehem (26 tables): $691,979 (-22.7% y-o-y)
  • Rivers Pittsburgh (30 tables): $468,269 (-6.3% y-o-y)
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia (27 tables): $315,450 (-10.3% y-o-y)
  • Penn National (17 tables): $273,230 (-6.1% y-o-y)
  • Mohegan Sun (18 tables): $159,475 (-8.3% y-o-y)
  • The Meadows (14 tables): $133,606 (-18.4% y-o-y)
  • Presque Isle Downs (7 tables): $89,018 (+17.1% y-o-y)
  • Mount Airy (9 tables): $73,908 (-7.1%)

The largest contraction in June belonged to Wind Creek, a casino formerly belonging to Las Vegas Sands. The casino has transitioned to new ownership this year. Wind Creek saw about $202k less poker revenue in June 2019 compared to June 2018, for a whopping 22.7% contraction.

SugarHouse’s poker room trended in the opposite direction, with rake up nearly 20% compared to June 2018. Between apparently revamped promotions at the room and the casino’s plans for online poker, it appears SugarHouse is doubling down on poker, but it’s not the only one with such plans.

Online poker (and growth) forthcoming

Two of the casinos with poker rooms aren’t seeking to offer online poker. Mohegan Sun and Presque Isle Downs both did not apply for an online gambling permit that included online poker.

Despite not seeking online poker, Mohegan Sun Pocono recently told the PGCB at a hearing that its new poker room should benefit from proximity to its sportsbook. The casino’s poker revenue has been in decline since 2011, the year following its opening. Other casinos are experiencing a similar problem.

The casino’s new poker room will include only eight tables, down from 18, but the casino said that no loss of rake is projected.

Despite being the smallest room in terms of rake generated, Mount Airy has big plans for changing that, thanks in large part to its partnership with The Stars Group, owner of the iconic online poker platform PokerStars. Mount Airy told the PGCB last month of its new poker room plans, which include adding three more tables.

Some PA casinos are shoring up their live poker thanks to sports betting, which has a similar demographic to poker, and online poker legalization. The years-long stagnation of the PA poker market will soon be reversing course. If/when the state shares online poker liquidity with neighboring New Jersey, there will be more than 20 mm people exposed to regulated online poker between just those two states. There will be a multitude of platforms able to pool players across the state lines.

Nevada and Delaware also have online poker, but only one of the PA casino operators (Harrah’s) is approved and live with online poker in those two states.

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Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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