PA Gaming Industry Ready To Earn $1.3 Billion More Than Any Prior Year

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Back in January, Penn Bets assessed Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board revenue data for the month before, combined it with the outlook for gaming expansion in 2021, and became the first (that we know of) to publicly proclaim $4 billion in annual revenue in reach for the state’s commercial gambling industry.

After March cleared $400 million in monthly gaming revenue from retail casinos, iGaming, sports betting, truck stop VGTs, and sports fantasy contests for the first time, we affirmed that the first quarter of 2021 showed the $4 billion projection appeared solid.

In July, after a couple more $400 million months, we revised our estimates and suggested 2021 would see at least $4.4 billion in statewide gaming revenue.

And now we’re here to apologize to Pennsylvania’s gaming industry and all of the losing gamblers who support it, because we again underestimated you. The October revenue report released Wednesday by the gaming board showed a record $425.9 million was collected by the various operators from their customers last month. That put the total just shy of $3.9 billion for the year thus far.

So now, using reasonable estimates for November and December, we can safely say that 2021 will be a $4.7 billion year for the industry by the time revelers gather in 16 casinos on New Year’s Eve, or wager on their couches on that day’s football bowl games, or play online slots or whatever else they do as gamblers.

That’s $1.3 billion higher than any prior year, and while it represents a sizable loss for the losing gamblers who made it possible, it also provides more than $1.9 billion in direct government tax revenue in the state that relies on gaming more for its finances than any other in the U.S.

An impressive rebound from COVID’s impact

This surge in gaming revenue comes after the setback of the COVID year of 2020, when gaming revenue fell to $2.65 billion after 2019 had set a record at $3.41 billion. In 2020, casinos were shut down for a combined total of 1,473 days, and when open they operated under restrictions that were only widely lifted by mid-2021.

The current year has seen the land-based casino industry finally return to its prior revenue levels in recent months, though that has only occurred due to the boost of having three new casinos open over the past 12 months.

At the same time, iCasino revenue is on pace to nearly double last year’s level of $565.8 million, and revenue from sports betting, VGTs, and fantasy sports will all blow past their prior highs set last year.

Here is the level of revenue for each type of commercial gaming in the first 10 months of 2021, and what Penn Bets projects their totals will be by the end of the year.

Revenue time frame Retail slots Retail tables Online casinos Sports betting VGTs/Fantasy Total
January-October $1.91 billion $758.7 million $916.9 million $257.6 million $56.1 million $3.9 billion
2021 projection $2.31 billion $932.7 million $1.12 billion $307.6 million $69.7 million $4.73 billion

The next frontier: a $5 billion year

While the industry can be subject to ups and downs, as the COVID era showed, there’s now every reason to think Pennsylvania will become a $5 billion gaming revenue state next year.

When we examined data for the first half of the year back in July, it showed $2.22 billion in revenue had been earned over the first six months, meaning now that the figure for the second half of the year will end up around $2.5 billion.

And that’s with one small new casino, Hollywood Casino York, only opening in mid-August, while comparable Hollywood Casino Morgantown is to open in December and further buttress the retail casino totals.

The opening of two more mini-casinos in Cumberland County and Centre County is anticipated, with late 2022 a possibility for both to begin greeting customers. The mini-casinos open thus far in the state have shown a capacity to earn $75 million to $100 million or more in annual revenue from slots and table games.

There are also further online sportsbooks and casinos in the pipeline for launch sometime in 2022, although it’s unclear as yet how much more they can boost revenue within those already crowded sectors. At present, 13 online sportsbooks and 17 iCasinos are in operation.

What it all adds up to is one of the more prosperous gaming industries in the nation for operators and the state. To what extent that’s good for the gamblers themselves may be debatable — for the small percentage with compulsive tendencies it comes at severe cost — but for the vast majority, if they weren’t getting entertainment satisfaction from it they presumably wouldn’t be propping up the ever-growing industry.

Photo: Shutterstock

Author: Wanda Peters