PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Pandemic-related shutdowns in Pennsylvania, the nation’s No. 2 commercial gambling state, helped knock casino revenue down by 18%, state regulators reported Thursday, and it would have been much worse without the advent of online gambling and sports betting. Revenue from regulated gambling in Pennsylvania shrank to $2.7 billion in the just-finished fiscal year, down from a new record high above $3.3 billion a year ago, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Revenue from slot-machine gambling was down by $680 million and table games were down by about $240 million, both nearly 30%. But online gambling contributed $240 million and sports betting brought in $114 million in the first full year for both in casinos’ portfolios in Pennsylvania.
The state’s 12 operating casinos spent much of the spring shut down, while online gambling went on. Online sports betting also continued but was hobbled by the cancellation of sporting events during the pandemic.
Pennsylvania legalized both as part of an aggressive gambling expansion in 2017.
Pennsylvania was the nation’s No. 2 state for commercial casino revenue in 2019, behind Nevada, according to American Gaming Association figures. It was No. 1 in tax revenue from casino gambling last year, but the gaming board estimates that the state’s take will shrink to $1.1 billion from $1.4 billion in the last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Rivers Casino in Philadelphia will be the latest gambling hall in the region to reopen on Friday. Eyewitness News got a sneak peek at how the casino in Fishtown is sanitizing to keep customers safe from the coronavirus.
Rivers Casino will limit the number of players at table games to three people. There will be no dining or smoking.
Casino officials say they are taking sanitizing to a whole new level with their “Rivers Clean” campaign.
“What we’ve done is, install temperature readers at every entrance so that every guest and every team member are going to have their temperatures taken upon arrival,” Emily Dones, a spokesperson for the casino, said. “We’re also requiring that every team member and guest wear a mask for the duration of their stay in the casino.”
Pennsylvania rules limit casinos to 50% of capacity.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)