Online casino, sports betting ride to Pennsylvania’s rescue

Pennsylvania’s online gambling and sports betting revenue helped paper over the double-digit losses suffered by state casinos’ land-based slots and tables in November.

Figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) show the state’s gambling licensees reported combined revenue of nearly $284.3m in November, down a modest 2.7% from the same month last year but a significant step back from October 2020’s $320.2m

Land-based slots revenue slumped 31.6% year-on-year to $129.5m while table games fell 30% to $52.3m as the state’s casinos continued to struggle under pandemic restrictions. The retail revenue slide will accelerate when December’s numbers are released, following their second state-ordered medical shutdown last Saturday that will extend into early January.

The outlook is significantly brighter at the state’s online casinos, which reported revenue of just under $59.8m in November, a new monthly record, although just barely, rising a mere $15k from October. Online slots brought in $39.4m, digital table games added $18m and the state’s lone online poker operator (PokerStars) contributed $2.4m. 

Sports betting revenue also hit a new record of $37.35m (after deducting bonus offers to players), about half-a-million higher than October’s $36.8m. Mobile and desktop channels accounted for the bulk ($31.2m) of November’s betting revenue.

The revenue record was set despite November’s betting handle falling 6.4% from October to $491.9m. All three of the state’s major sportsbooks reported decreased handle, led by FanDuel ($176.7m, -2.4%), DraftKings ($110m, -9.2%) and Penn National Gaming’s Barstool Sportsbook ($55.7m, -8.7%). 

The big three will soon have to contend with BetMGM, which plans to soft-launch its sportsbook this week after the PGCB approved a wagering certificate for Penn National’s under-construction satellite casino in Berks County, on which BetMGM plans to piggyback. BetMGM launched its Pennsylvania online casino earlier this month and recently added a live dealer option to its offering. 

As for the state’s lesser verticals, video gaming terminals (VGTs) brought in $2.25m, while ‘fantasy contests’ added $3m. The state ordered retail operators to switch off their VGTs last Saturday in tandem with the casino closures, with the action not scheduled to resume until January 4. 

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