Pennsylvania is taking a rare step backwards in gaming revenue

Given the explosion of interest in online gambling – be it casino gaming or sports betting – it has become common in recent years for Pennsylvania’s gaming industry to exceed the previous year’s revenue each month.

However, that is not the case in November, according to data released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

While commercial retail and digital operators combined posted a whopping $444.5 million in revenue last month, that was 1.7% less than November 2022 and 8% less than October. It was the first time since February 2021 that the state’s industry posted a year-on-year loss in a month.

The culprit in this case was sports betting. Unlike the house edge, which is predictably constant in traditional casino games, the amount that sportsbook operators withhold can fluctuate wildly each month depending on how well customers perform when betting on events.

While Pennsylvania saw a record $934.1 million in sports betting in November, sportsbooks’ taxable revenue was just $12.9 million, compared to $52.9 million in November 2022. The Gambling Board noted that this was due to a combination of both operators’ relatively low revenues (5.3% retention rate from bets) and the introduction of PENN Entertainment’s ESPN BET onto the sports betting scene with an introductory offer that attracted $14.8 million. Dollars in advertising credits were given away, which are not taxable by the state.

While sports betting revenue fell, the $267.6 million that operators earned from retail slots and table games was up 1.1% from a year ago and the $158 million that online casinos earned in Pennsylvania, 22.9% more than the previous November. Last month also brought $3.4 million in revenue from video game terminals at rest stops and $2.6 million from fantasy sports competitions.

Total tax revenue for state and local governments from legal commercial gambling was $182 million last month, and despite the monthly decline, Pennsylvania will still see industry-record revenue in 2023 of $5.2 billion in 2022 easily surpass.

Online casinos have had their third strong month in a row

With about 20 different online gambling options now available to choose from, Pennsylvania residents have lost more than $150 million for the third straight month playing slots, table games and poker by phone or computer.

Total operator revenue of $158 million increased 2% from October and was slightly below September’s record $159.5 million.

Pennsylvania’s Gaming Board does not publicly release internet casino revenue by individual operator, but instead groups monthly data by which casino has an iGaming license and then includes digital partners.

In November, PENN’s Hollywood Casino license, shared with DraftKings, BetMGM and PointsBet, posted a total of $61.1 million in November revenue, down slightly from the previous month.

The Valley Forge Casino Resort license, consisting of iCasinos FanDuel and Stardust, saw a whopping 16.1% increase over October to $41.1 million.

The Rivers Philadelphia franchise, which includes BetRivers, PlaySugarHouse and Borgata, saw a monthly decline of 5.5% to $27.7 million.

Harrah’s Philadelphia’s two Caesars platforms — one affiliated with the sportsbook and the other separate as a Caesars Palace location — were flat at $7.9 million, having previously seen revenue increase every month since July.

Among independent operators not tied to retail casinos in Pennsylvania, Golden Nugget at $3.1 million and Bally’s at $2 million each posted modest month-over-month revenue increases.

Retail casinos remain mostly stable

The 17 retail casinos generated $267.6 million in November slot and table game revenue, representing both a slight 2.7% decrease from October and a slight 1.1% increase from November 2022, according to the state has been relatively flat for several years.

Although the overall numbers change little, the performance of individual casinos can vary greatly from month to month and year to year.

Of the $189.7 million in nationwide slot revenue, the $8.3 million generated by Harrah’s Philadelphia represented a significant 13.6% decrease from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Casino at Nemacolin, which recently changed its name from “Lady Luck” as part of its new operations, saw a 30.4% year-over-year increase in slot winnings to $1.7 million; Hollywood Casino Morgantown rose 13.2% to $4.8 million; and live! Philadelphia rose 12.5% ​​to $11.6 million.

Casinos earned $77.9 million from table games, with some showing big improvements since November 2022: Valley Forge Casino Resort increased 47% to $2.7 million; Casino at Nemacolin increased 46.6% to $201,452; Hollywood Casino at Penn National rose 19.6% to $2.5 million; and Hollywood Casino York rose 16.3% to $1.6 million.

In contrast, table games at Hollywood Casino Morgantown fell 29.5% to $644,681; Hollywood Casino at the Meadows fell 28.4% to $1.5 million; Harrah’s Philadelphia fell 24.4% to $2 million; and Rivers Philadelphia fell 20.5% to $7 million.

Parx Casino remains the national leader in retail slots revenue with $29.7 million in November, while Wind Creek Bethlehem continued to generate the largest share of table games with $20.9 million.

Photo: Getty Images

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