Pennsylvania iGaming Study Finds 10% of Adults Gamble Online

Posted on: January 26, 2022, 12:58h. 

Last updated on: January 26, 2022, 11:59h.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Penn State University, recently released its first iGaming impact report. And some of its findings are raising eyebrows.

Pennsylvania iGaming sports betting casinos
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which is tasked with regulating the state’s ever-expanding gaming industry, says one in 10 state adults is participating in iGaming. Mobile sports betting is the most popular outlet. (Image: PGCB)

Researchers at Penn State polled more than 1,100 adults across the state in 2020-21 to gauge their online gaming activity. The survey concluded that approximately one in 10 Pennsylvanians is actively participating in some form of iGaming.

The one in 10 participation rate equates to about one million adults actively playing online in Pennsylvania. The most popular iGaming format is mobile sports betting. Nearly half of all iGaming participants said they gamble on sports.

Pennsylvania defines iGaming as online slot machines and table games, internet daily fantasy sports, mobile sports betting, and lottery games facilitated online by the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Examining Consumer Behaviors

Pennsylvania expanded gaming in 2017 with a legislative package that authorized an array of new gaming, including online casinos and sportsbooks.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from internet slots and table games, plus poker rake, totaled more than $1.12 billion last year. Fantasy sports generated an additional $29.3 million.

The PGCB doesn’t break down sports betting revenue. Instead, it groups together in-person and online sportsbook income, which totaled $340.1 million in 2021. However, the overwhelming majority of the sportsbook income is presumably derived over the internet.

iGaming revenue is robust — likely near $1.5 billion last year alone. The iGaming report found some rather startling statistics regarding player behaviors.

For the one million Pennsylvanians who gamble online, the majority — 67.8 percent — identify as male. As for race/ethnicity, 73.4 percent said they were white, while 15.8 percent said they were black.

iGaming gamblers on average said they spend 5.8 hours a week gambling on the internet. They reported losing around $219 per week. Almost seven in 10 Pennsylvania online gamblers said they additionally participate in retail gambling, which could be visiting a brick-and-mortar casino or simply purchasing a lottery ticket at a convenience store.

While researchers concluded that 44.6 percent of iGaming players demonstrate at least one problem gambling behavior, only 2.1 percent have sought help to limit or end their gambling patterns.

Combating Societal Harms

Pennsylvania’s iGaming assessment was funded by taxes and fees from licensed interactive gaming operators. The purpose of the study is to determine what sort of impact — positive or negative — internet gambling is having on the commonwealth.

Gambling becomes a problem when individuals begin to develop strained relationships with loved ones, borrow money to gamble, gamble to experience a high or feeling, miss work, school, or other activities and obligations in order to gamble. These behaviors can have a serious impact on a person’s financial, physical, and mental health,” the iGaming report states.

Researchers say iGaming is prone to higher rates of addiction. The private nature and not having to personally interact with a casino employee or the general public contribute to the elevated instances, the report explained.

Additionally, 12.8 percent of Pennsylvania iGaming players said they have felt the need to gamble larger amounts in the past 12 months. That’s to achieve the same feeling or high they previously felt from wagering a smaller bet. Nearly 30 percent reported gambling more frequently, but only 3.8 percent admitted to borrowing money or selling something in order to gamble.