DE, NJ, PA all see record online gambling revenue in April

US iGaming Booms As Coronavirus Keeps Gamblers Away From Casinos

As the realities of the coronavirus pandemic set in, most in the gaming industry knew change was coming. Luckily, for states with legal online gambling, that change didn’t have to wait.

Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all set new records for iGaming in April in regard to both revenue and total play (handle) in states that report such data.

For our purposes, iGaming encompasses online poker, slots, and table games.

Breaking down US online gambling growth

All regulated US online gambling markets saw significant growth last month. April was the first real look at a gambling economy with no casinos open, as most brick-and-mortar casinos were still doing business midway through March.

  • Delaware: The tiny market exploded with $28.5 million in digital handle, up 74.3% from March and 138.5% from last April. Revenue also hit a new record of $856,182, up 66.3% from March and 225.4% from last April.
  • New Jersey: While it does not itemize handle, its record $80 million in revenue jumped 23.4% over the previous record from March and 118.6% over last April.
  • Pennsylvania: Online gaming handle broke the billion-dollar mark at $1.4 billion, up 59.5% from March. Revenue also rose 73.1% month-to-month. The PA online gambling market is still relatively new, only launching last July.

There are a couple of factors to consider when looking at the across-the-board growth of online gambling in the US.

New customers drive iGaming increases

New customers are clearly a big part of the picture.

Look at Delaware, the only state out of the three that provides monthly customer sign-up numbers. The three DE online casinos added 1,410 accounts in April. That may seem like a small number at a glance, but the state’s population is less than a million.

That brings total online gambling accounts in Delaware to 34,586 since its launch in November 2013, which means that 4.1% of all accounts accumulated over six-and-a-half years of operation were registered in April.

The 1,410 registrations represent a 214% growth over the average monthly sign-up rate of 449 accounts and the second-highest total since launch.

Sports bettors likely added to surge, too

Sports betting from March 12 through April was almost entirely limited to fringe sports. Those included some foreign soccer and hockey leagues for a bit but mostly wound up being darts, table tennis, and esports.

It makes sense, then, that bettors are looking for other ways to gamble. Sports bettors typically tend to favor table games over slots, and there was certainly significant growth for the former in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, table game handle rose 30.2% to $632.4 million in April over March. PA online poker, which is only offered by PokerStars PA at the moment, saw rake and fees jump 67.7% to $5.3 million.

Delaware’s table game handle leaped 78% to $17.4 million in April, while poker revenue rose 45.7% to $84,034. It’s also important to note that Delaware does not have online sports betting, even though state law allows it.

Survey details iGaming customers

A survey from Synergy Blue, which develops arcade-like, skill-based games for casinos, detailed some of the changes in consumer preferences amid the coronavirus closures.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed said they gambled online or played mobile games during the shutdown. One in five of those respondents were not online gamblers before the lockdown.

Of those that gambled online, 93% said they will continue to do so when stay-at-home orders lift.

There’s still room to grab more of those customers that were previously land-based gamblers, too. Just 51% of respondents said they would revisit casinos once they reopen, and 34% of them won’t return until social distancing measures are lifted.

From the survey:

- Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.
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