PA iGaming revenue dropped to $92.7 million in April despite the launch of two new poker rooms

Pennsylvania’s Online Casino Market Settles Into The Same Groove As Neighboring New Jersey

With COVID-19 protocols loosening and ever-greater numbers of people getting vaccinated, elevated levels of online gambling activity are finally starting to slip. The drop has been slight so far, but could become more pronounced now as COVID cases in the US seem to be on course to reach their lowest levels since the very first weeks of the pandemic.

Last week, Michigan and New Jersey released their online gambling revenue figures for April. This week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) added its report to the pile. All three states performed significantly worse than they did in March. Both PA and NJ suffered their first month of declining daily average revenue since last June.

Pennsylvania online casinos pulled in just over $90 million for the month, while poker rooms contributed $2.4 million. Online sportsbooks added another $31 million. All of these verticals showed a month-on-month decline.

Read on for more analysis on the Pennsylvania market. You can also read our coverage of the other states by following these links:

PA online gambling revenue highlights – Apr 2021

Compared to other iGaming states, Pennsylvania got off to a rocky start in July 2019. It took a long time to get up to speed, meaning a long stretch of big relative gains from month to month, even while per capita revenue remained low in absolute terms. The pandemic, casino closures and resulting surge in online gambling traffic prolonged this.

Just this year, the market has shown signs of settling in to a more stable pattern. One indicator of this is that the difference in growth rate between Pennsylvania and the much older New Jersey market has been decreasing.

In January, Pennsylvania iGaming revenue increased 12%, while New Jersey’s rose only 4%, a difference of 8 percentage points. In February, the difference dropped to 6 percentage points, then to four in March.

Now, the April numbers show two markets in virtual lockstep. Corrected for the number of days in the month, daily average revenue in New Jersey dropped 2.05%. Pennsylvania’s loss was 1.97%.

The eventual launch of Golden Nugget Online Casino in Pennsylvania may give the state another boost. Aside from that, however, we can probably expect Pennsylvania and New Jersey to track each other fairly closely going forward.

Here are some other key figures from the month:

  • The dollar total for online casinos and poker rooms put together was $92,676,448 for April, a drop of almost exactly $5 million from March.
  • As a daily average, operators took in an aggregate $3,089,215 per day, down from $3,151,282 in March.
  • State and local taxes dropped to a greater degree than overall revenue, down 5.5% on the month and 2.4% on the daily average. All told, operators paid $38,613,510 in state taxes, county grants and local share assessments.

Pennsylvania market analysis – by operator

Unlike the situation in New Jersey, Pennsylvania has a well-established hierarchy in the market leadership race. The fact that both BetMGM Casino and DraftKings Casino are partnered with Penn National means that two of the “Big Three” brands are under one roof, and it would be hard for anyone else to challenge Penn for the title of biggest certificate holder.

However, there is a scrum forming at the bottom of the standings, as the smallest and newest operators fight for a toehold in the market.

Wind Creek had, until April, been faring well in that race. In March, it nearly doubled its revenue, pulling well ahead of TwinSpires and PlayLive!, and threatening to overtake Caesars, a much better-known brand.

That has proven unsustainable, however. It lost all those gains in April and then some, plunging from $1.4 million in revenue to just $647,693, less than in made in February.

At the same time, TwinSpires and PlayLive! both had good months, increasing their daily average revenue by 31% and 62% respectively. In dollar terms, they made $630,075 and $667,696, creating what is, in practical terms, a three-way tie with Wind Creek.

Other big changes for individual operators include the following:

  • Unibet had the worst month aside from Wind Creek, with daily average revenue dropping 30%. It still has enough of a lead over Caesars that its rank in the market is unlikely to change any time soon, however.
  • Parx has also continued its roller-coaster ride, shedding 23% of its daily average revenue in April after gaining 40% in March, and losing 18% the month prior.
  • The top two certificate holders – Penn National and Rivers – both gained slightly in daily average revenue. Together, they account for 65% of the total market.

Pennsylvania market analysis – by vertical

In qualitative terms, the biggest change in April was the launch of two new poker brands: BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker. These share their traffic and are both owned by BetMGM, yet they have separate land-based partners: Penn National and Rivers, respectively. That makes Pennsylvania the only state in which we can see a revenue breakdown between two poker skins on the same network.

Unsurprisingly, BetMGM is the larger of the two, with $20,431 in revenue for April. Borgata earned just $6,640. Even taken together, these numbers don’t amount to much. PokerStars, which held a monopoly for over a year in the state, made $2,345,056, or 98.8% of total PA online poker revenue.

That’s not BetMGM’s fault, however. The two brands only soft launched on Apr. 27 for testing, with the full launch on Apr. 29. Even counting the test period, that means they were only active for four days of the month. Comparing daily averages, the market split looks more like 92%/8% for PokerStars, which is still very dominant. The newcomers faced technical difficulties during the test period, however, so the difference may not be so extreme in months to come.

In the meantime, here’s how the casino verticals are doing:

  • Table games saw a slight increase in daily average wagers, from $48.9 million to $49.7 million. However, the margin dropped from 1.91% to 1.86%, with the result that daily average revenue fell 0.9%.
  • It was the same pattern, but more extreme for slots. Daily average coin in rose from $56.6 million to $58.4 million, but the margin fell from 4.58% to 4.31%, creating a drop of 2.6% in daily average revenue.
  • Slots remain ahead of table games overall, accounting for 68% of gross iGaming revenue and 88% of taxes, thanks to the high rate charged on that vertical in PA.

Pennsylvania sports betting

PA sportsbooks took $479 million in bets for April, a drop of 14% from March. That’s not unexpected, as March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament, consistently produces the biggest month for sports betting in the US each year (except last year, when it was cancelled).

Hold was a comfortable 7.5%, up slightly from 7.3% in March. Daily average revenue was down 9.2%.

The losses came from the online channel. Retail sportsbooks actually performed better in April than March, thanks presumably to the abating pandemic. Handle was down a little, but revenue grew 43% on the month, or 47% as a daily average. Even so, online sportsbooks remained by far the most important channel, accounting for 92% of handle and 87% of gross revenue.

You can read more about PA sports betting revenue over at Legal Sports Report.

PA online gambling revenue breakdown

Here are the full numbers for the state, broken down by operator and product. Note that, starting this month, monthly changes are normalized. That is, they reflect the change in daily average revenue, accounting for the number of days in the month. This provides a more accurate picture of market dynamics than looking at monthly totals.

 Apr 21Mar 21Month Chg.Apr 20Year Chg.
Penn
Slots$22,246,201$22,199,088+3.6%$4,093,178+443.5%
Tables$11,535,536$11,393,549+4.6%$490,883+2250.0%
Poker$20,431--N/A--N/A
Total$33,802,168$33,592,637+4.0%$4,584,061+637.4%
Parx
Slots$3,721,330$5,313,946-27.6%$3,810,270-2.3%
Tables$841,220$801,445+8.5%$303,662+177.0%
Total$4,562,550$6,115,391-22.9%$4,113,932+10.9%
Rivers
Slots$22,251,451$22,648,833+1.5%$11,019,767+101.9%
Tables$4,390,366$4,418,337+2.7%$2,686,693+63.4%
Poker$6,640--N/A--N/A
Total$26,648,457$27,067,170+1.7%$13,706,460+94.4%
Mt. Airy
Slots$2,873,683$2,946,012+0.8%$2,770,750+3.7%
Tables$1,771,720$1,854,330-1.3%$2,424,525-26.9%
Poker$2,345,056$2,401,772+0.9%$5,253,304-55.4%
Total$6,990,459$7,202,114+0.3%$10,448,579-33.1%
Mohegan
Slots$1,781,136$2,911,035-36.8%$1,186,040+50.2%
Tables$525,415$489,235+11.0%$647,358-18.8%
Total$2,306,551$3,400,270-29.9%$1,833,398+25.8%
Presque Isle
Slots$357,138$168,200+119.4%$114,389+212.2%
Tables$272,937$329,892-14.5%$99,682+173.8%
Total$630,075$498,092+30.7%$214,071+194.3%
Valley Forge
Slots$6,933,851$7,128,635+0.5%$4,099,097+69.2%
Tables$7,908,056$9,251,087-11.7%$3,836,818+106.1%
Total$14,841,907$16,379,722-6.4%$7,935,915+87.0%
Caesars
Slots$1,294,751$1,318,169+1.5%$231,464+459.4%
Tables$284,142$297,603-1.3%--N/A
Total$1,578,893$1,615,772+1.0%$231,464+582.1%
Wind Creek
Slots$512,949$1,394,412-62.0%--N/A
Tables$134,744-$1,984-7117.9%--N/A
Total$647,693$1,392,428-51.9%--N/A
Live!
Slots$644,476$396,464+68.0%--N/A
Tables$23,220$29,684-19.2%--N/A
Total$667,696$426,148+61.9%--N/A
All Operators
Slots$62,616,965$66,424,794-2.6%$27,324,955+129.2%
Tables$27,687,356$28,863,178-0.9%$10,489,621+164.0%
Poker$2,372,127$2,401,772+2.1%$5,253,304-54.8%
Total$92,676,448$97,689,744-2.0%$43,067,880+115.2%
- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for OnlinePokerReport, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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