Pennsylvania Reports Strong iGaming Growth in May as Online Slots Top $1B in Wagers

Posted on: June 21, 2020, 01:04h. 

Last updated on: June 21, 2020, 11:54h.

Pennsylvania’s growing online gaming industry hasn’t completely filled the void left by the closure of brick-and-mortar casinos. But mobile slots and table games are providing the state with some revenue as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Pennsylvania iGaming
Pennsylvanians have apparently pursued their happiness online last month. According to the PGCB, more than $1 billion was bet on online slots in the state. (Image: Pa.Gov)

The May figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) came out last Tuesday, and online slot machine handle topped $1 billion for the first time. The $1.06 billion wagered in the state last month was more than $300 million above the total for April. Table games generated $778.5 million in action last month, a nearly $150 million increase from April.

According to PGCB data, the state collected nearly $24 million off interactive slots and tables.

Further emphasizing the significant increase in online play during the COVID-19 shut down of casinos is the jump in revenue in just two months,” the PGCB said in a statement. “The $55.8 million May online casino-type revenue figure was more than double the revenue generated from those games in March, when revenue stood at $24.9 million.”

Those numbers are still just fractions of what the state’s retail casinos produced in May 2019. Slots produced gross revenues of $209.6 million, and tables generated $76.6 million. That allowed the state to rake $120 million in taxes for the month.

Still, iGaming allowed Pennsylvania, as well as neighboring New Jersey and Delaware, to do something no other gaming states could accomplish – generate revenue off gaming while casinos were closed.

Pennsylvania Sportsbooks Begin to Rebound in May

Meanwhile, sports betting began to climb again. The return of competition in May allowed the state’s online sports betting applications to take in $77.5 million in wagers. That’s a 68.5 percent increase from the $46 million in bets the books took in April.

Those bets produced gross revenues of $4.8 million, which, in turn, created $1.6 million in state taxes.

Pennsylvania does not break down handle by sport. But May featured the first live sporting events to take place since COVID-19 forced cancellations and postponements across the country. The major sports to resume play in May were UFC, which held three cards in a week down in Jacksonville, Fla., and NASCAR, which transitioned from virtual racing to the live product on May 17.

FanDuel and DraftKings again dominated the market, as the two combined to hold two-thirds of the sports betting activity in Pennsylvania. FanDuel handled $29.6 million in wagers, with DraftKings reporting a $21.8 million handle.

Brick-and-Mortar Casinos Reopening

Earlier this month, the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos began reopening. Unlike most gaming states, where – with certain exceptions based on local guidelines – state gaming boards established a date for the venues to resume activity in limited capacities, Pennsylvania is only allowing casinos to reopen when their counties reach the “green phase” in the reopening plan.

By the end of this upcoming week, half of the 12 retail casinos are expected to reopen. That includes the Mount Airy Resort Casino in the northeast corner of the state. The casino issued a statement last week announcing plans to open Monday at noon ET.

Thanks to a state tax of 34 percent, Pennsylvania generates more money off gaming than any other state in the country. However, the COVID-19 crisis that shuttered brick-and-mortar casinos will have a significant effect on the Keystone State’s budget.

For the 2018-19 fiscal year, Pennsylvania received $808.8 million in state taxes alone off slots. With just June left in the 2019-20 fiscal year, the state has generated just $556.1 million, thanks to no tax dollars coming in April or May.