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Pennsylvania Online Casinos Account for 21 Percent of 2020 State Gaming Revenue

Sports betting gets all the headlines, but online casinos are where the money’s at.

Pennsylvania casinos, like Hollywood Casino at Penn National, seen here, were largely vacant or even closed during much of 2020. But the state’s licensed online casinos were busy, and they played a pivotal role in aiding the gaming industry. The internet gaming sites won more than a half of a billion dollars. (Image: Penn Live)

Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is the nation’s third-largest in terms of revenue. It trails only Nevada and New Jersey.

The Keystone State’s 13 brick-and-mortar casinos were forced to close at points during 2020. And when the physical slot machines, table games, and poker rooms were off=limits, iGaming surged.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released full-year gaming revenue numbers today, and it’s clear the state’s legal internet casinos played a critical role in the health of the gaming industry during the pandemic. Gaming win from iGaming totaled $556.77 million. Online casinos only went live in July of 2019.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines, table games, iGaming, sports betting, fantasy sports, and video gaming terminals totaled $2.653 billion in 2020. That means online casinos accounted for 21 percent of the overall gaming money won in Pennsylvania.

2020 Pennsylvania Gaming Breakdown

Move Over, Sports Betting

No sector of the US gaming industry is more discussed than the continued expansion of sports betting. The Supreme Court repealed the long-standing federal ban on the gambling activity everywhere but Nevada nearly three years ago. Since then, 24 states plus DC have passed laws to regulate and license sportsbooks.

But sports betting is a small-margin business, meaning the associated GGR and subsequent tax revenue is often not all that it’s cracked up to be. Conversely, online casinos can generate substantial income for land-based casinos, as demonstrated by the PGCB report.

While online casinos won over half of a billion dollars, mobile and retail sportsbooks in Pennsylvania kept $189.7 million of the bets wagered last year.

New Jersey, one of only three other states with online slot machines and table games, reported iGaming revenue of $970.3 million in 2020. Oddsmakers generated revenue of $398.5 million.

2020 Insurmountably Difficult

Despite gains from online casinos, sports betting, and VGTs, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry posted a 22 percent year-over-year loss. The steep losses from legacy gaming — brick-and-mortar slot machines and table games — was simply too much to overcome.

2020 slot machine win was more than $1 billion short of 2019. Table game win declined nearly $400 million.

All 13 of Pennsylvania’s casinos are back open for play. They’re operating at a maximum capacity of 50 percent of their listed fire code.

2021 will see further competition in the Keystone State. The Cordish Companies, which opened the state’s first satellite casino last fall in Westmoreland outside Pittsburgh, opened Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia today to invited guests. The integrated resort, located in Philly’s Stadium District, will welcome the general public on February 11.

Penn National is constructing satellite gaming venues in York and Morgantown. Bally’s is, too, in Centre County near Penn State University, and Parx has a license for Cumberland County near Shippensburg University.

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