MI and PA each increased their daily average iGaming revenue by about 1% apiece in November, while NJ dropped 4%

Caesars Continues To Climb In Michigan Despite Winter Cooldown For US Online Gambling

November was, by and large, a bit of a slow month for the US online gambling industry.

It wasn’t a bad month by any means, but the general trend for US online casino revenue was flat. Of the large states, New Jersey was the only one to see a substantial change, and this was a drop of 4% in daily average gross revenue. Pennsylvania and Michigan held quite steady, with changes on the order of 1%.

This has been the general trend for several months now. Whereas 2020 was a year of massive growth, the story for 2021 seems to be consolidation. Although the industry hasn’t experienced a reversal of those pandemic-related gains, it feels as if there’s a slow, partial backslide which is more or less canceling out the underlying natural growth of online gambling in the US.

Data for this article comes from monthly financial reports by the various state regulators.

How big will Caesars get in Michigan?

Although the industry collectively hasn’t been growing much in recent months, there’s been some movement among individual brands. In particular, the acquisition and rebranding of William Hill US properties is working out well for Caesars.

The impact is easiest to see in Michigan, where Caesars had no presence of its own before renaming the existing William Hill Sportsbook and Casino. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the licensing structure and Caesars’ pre-existing operations make it harder to tell what impact the rebranding had.

August, when the branding change took place, was immediately the best month on record for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, who serve as the land-based partner for the new Caesars Online Casino in Michigan.

Summer had been a particularly slow time for William Hill Casino, due to lack of crossover from the sportsbook during the off-season. From May to June, the operator’s daily average gross gaming revenue was below $10,000. That nearly tripled from $9,566 in July to $26,527 in August and Caesars has enjoyed monthly growth in the double-digit percentages ever since.

In November, Caesars made almost $2.4 million from its iGaming vertical in the state. As a daily average, that’s more than quadruple what William Hill made in March, which had been the best month under that brand.

Even so, Caesars holds just a 2.2% share of the Michigan market at the moment. On the other hand, its growth has shown no signs of slowing down since the rebranding. It’s therefore impossible to say at this point where it will ultimately stand once it levels off.

The former William Hill Casino in MI has seen rapid growth since rebranding as Caesars

Data courtesy of the Michigan Gaming Control Board

New Jersey online gambling revenue – Nov. 2021

New Jersey online casinos suffered more of a downturn in November than the other large states. Total iGaming revenue dropped to just under $118 million, from $127 million in October. Even accounting for the shorter month, its daily average was down 4.0%.

That’s not a disaster, however, as it comes on the heels of several strong months. Revenue remains stronger than it had been any month prior to September. On an annual basis, online casino revenue is up 29.4%, though factoring in a shrinking poker vertical brings the increase down to 28.5% for combined iGaming.

It was mostly the bigger licenses responsible for the decline, while many of the smaller ones had a good month. Market leader Borgata plunged 10%, while Golden Nugget in the chase position fell 4.9%.

Caesars had a good month (though not as good as in Michigan) with an increase of 12.7%, including WSOP poker revenue. Bally’s, the newest and smallest license, more than doubled its revenue, though that still leaves it with just a 0.5% market share and less than half the size of the next-smallest, Ocean Resort.

Michigan online gambling revenue – Nov. 2021

As we predicted last month, Michigan online gambling didn’t quite crack the $1 billion annual revenue mark in November. However, having clocked in at $992.2 million, it was all but over the line, and has surely crossed it by now. In fact, extrapolating November’s daily revenue into December suggests it probably did so on Dec. 3.

According to official data, daily average revenue appears to have increased 1.4% in November. This may be an error, however. Reported revenue for Fox Bet/PokerStars plummeted by two-thirds in October and rebounded in November. The operator has told Online Poker Report that the October figure was an error, though it still hasn’t been corrected.

If we estimate its actual October revenue to be the average of September and November, then November’s daily average is almost unchanged from October’s, or perhaps down very slightly.

As mentioned above, Caesars had the best month in the state. Several other operators also enjoyed double-digit percentage increases in their daily average revenue, however: FireKeepers, Parx, Golden Nugget, PointsBet and Four Winds.

Counteracting those gains by smaller brands was an 11.5% drop for DraftKings Casino, nearly erasing its big gains in October.

Pennsylvania online gambling revenue – Nov. 2021

Aggregate revenue for Pennsylvania online casinos and poker rooms totaled $114,516,176. As a monthly total, that’s a bit of a drop from October. Taken as a daily average, however, it’s an increase of 1.1%, just slightly less than the increase from September to October.

Though the total value of the market was quite steady, the battle for market share was quite intense. Parx, PokerStars, FanDuel and Caesars all saw their revenues drop by between 8% and 12%.

The Penn National license, which dominates due to partnerships with DraftKings Casino and BetMGM Casino, increased 7.5%. It was those gains, plus a smaller contribution from Rivers which kept the total market in the black. The biggest proportional gains for a single license were for PlayLive!, which increased its revenue from $1,156,567 in October to $1,928,354 in November, which works out to a 72% jump in its daily average.

Connecticut online gambling revenue – Nov. 2021

Connecticut’s online casinos had their first full month of operation in November. Both operators – Mohegan Sun (powered by FanDuel) and DraftKings – increased their revenue by roughly a factor of two relative to October. That’s to be expected, given that they had launched roughly halfway through the month.

Together, they produced $18.4 million in gross revenue. However, both are spending heavily on promotions, hitting the monthly cap of 25% of gross revenue they’re allowed to deduct under Connecticut law. Thus, their combined taxable revenue was only $13.9 million.

Mohegan spent exactly as much as it could deduct, $1,941,852. DraftKings pushed considerably harder, spending $5,973,768, more than twice its deduction limit. This is a reversal of the two brands’ respective strategies in October. As a result, DraftKings expanded its lead, pulling in 57% of the state’s gross revenue compared to 54% in October.

West Virginia online gambling revenue – Nov. 2021

West Virginia revenue has shown a tendency to fluctuate considerably due more to differences in monthly margin than the volume of play. This sort of volatility is a feature of smaller markets, and November was no exception.

Our estimate for November revenue, based on the weekly totals provided by the regulator, is $6,424,923. That works out to a 9.3% drop in the daily average, though wagers were only down 2.2%. All three licenses saw their revenue drop to a greater degree than wagers, and Mountaineer (which hosts BetRivers and Caesars) actually saw an 11.6% increase in wagering activity.

DraftKings, which operates on the Hollywood license, broke even in terms of wagers, but dropped 9.6% in daily average revenue. The Greenbrier, which is the partner for BetMGM and FanDuel, saw wagers down 6.0% and revenue down 10.6%.

Delaware online gambling revenue – Nov. 2021

Delaware bucked the overall trend, adding 10.7% to its daily average revenue since October. Its total for November was $996,639, coming up just shy of hitting the $1 million mark for the second time in state history. The only time it has broken into seven digits was May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, when all retail gambling had been shut down.

State-by-state revenue and growth rate

Here’s how all five states look by the numbers:

StateNovember '21 iGaming GGRChange (m/m)Change (y/y)
New Jersey$117,953,098-4.0%+28.5%
Pennsylvania$114,516,176+1.1%+58.2%
Michigan$107,593,002+1.4%*N/A
Connecticut$18,437,083N/AN/A
West Virginia$6,424,993
-9.3%+186%
Delaware$996,639+10.7%+75.4%

Important notes about the data:

  • Monthly changes are normalized for the number of days in the month. That is, they reflect the change in the daily average, not the monthly total.
  • Michigan’s revenue total for October was likely off by about $2 million. The monthly change given is according to the data provided by the regulator. Correcting for the error, the real change was probably about -0.2%.
  • West Virginia reports revenue weekly, not monthly. Its monthly values are an estimate calculated from the weekly amounts provided by the regulator.
  • Most states’ numbers represent gross gaming revenue. Pennsylvania’s figures consist of gross gaming revenue for slots, but taxable revenue for table games and poker, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board does not report revenue before adjustments for those verticals.
- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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