Pennsylvania hails ‘dramatic’ iGaming, betting surge for October gains


Pennsylvania’s gambling market enjoyed a double-digit revenue gain in October thanks primarily to “dramatic” rises in online casino and sports betting activity.

Figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) show the state’s gaming operators generated combined revenue of $320.2m in October, a 12.9% rise from the same month last year and 12.7% better than the market reported in September 2020.

Land-based casino revenue continues to suffer from pandemic capacity restrictions, with slots revenue falling 17.2% to $154.7m and table games off 13.4% to $63.3m. All Pennsylvania casinos reported year-on-year slots declines while Harrah’s Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Presque Isle Downs were the only casinos to post improved table numbers.

It was a vastly different story with digital gambling, as online slots soared to $40.3m from just $4m in October 2019 (although only $1m better than September 2020). Online table games brought in $17m, up $2.3m from September, while the state’s lone online poker licensee (PokerStars) brought in $2.4m, effectively unchanged from September.

October’s sports betting handle hit $525.8m, more than doubling October 2019’s total and topping September 2020’s previous record of $462.8m. Nearly 90% of October’s betting handle was conducted on a digital basis.

October’s betting revenue came in just under $36.8m – after deducting $11.1m in online promotional credits – a significant improvement from September’s $6.3m, which suffered from a few books reporting negative revenue due to promotional generosity (and bad bounces). Digital betting accounted for $30.5m of October’s revenue total.

Flutter Entertainment’s FanDuel brand easily won October’s betting handle derby with nearly $185m, all but $4m of which was wagered online. Runner-up DraftKings was well back with $123.4m, while Rush Street Gaming’s BetRivers brand placed third with $68.6m.

Despite its publicity splash, Penn National Gaming’s Barstool Sportsbook managed to place no better than fourth in its first full month of operations in Pennsylvania with handle of $68.6m.

Pennsylvania may soon welcome a new entrant in the form of Roar Digital’s BetMGM brand, which received online gambling and sports betting licenses from the PGCB late last month.

MGM Resorts doesn’t operate a Pennsylvania casino but its Borgata casino in neighboring New Jersey was issued a qualified gaming entity certificate, entitling the operator to launch an online casino in Pennsylvania without a local land-based partner. However, betting operations will still require BetMGM to find a local casino partner and the company has so far been mum as to with whom it might be negotiating a tie-up.

A couple weeks ago, the PGCB issued two financial penalties against two casino operators for violating regulations governing the issuance of complimentary slots play. The Mount Airy and SugarHouse casinos were fined $90k and $45k, respectively, for issuing free slots credits in excess of the amounts permitted under state regulations.