According to PennLive, the closure of casinos in Pennsylvania didn’t stop Pennsylvanians from gambling. In the middle of December 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that all casinos in the state would be closed down from Dec. 12 to Jan. 4, 2021.
Of course, this didn’t go down well with gamblers in Pennsylvania. From the records of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released this week, the gambling revenues didn’t drop as expected. The report clearly showed that Pennsylvanians opted for online gambling.
Before the governor imposed the closure, Rivers Casinos Philadelphia was closed throughout December. Imagine the huge revenue loss.
Overview of Pennsylvania Gambling Market
Pennsylvania is one of the states in the US that has legalized gambling at land-based casinos. Also, the agency responsible for regulating and monitoring the activities of casino operators is known as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Apart from betting at casinos, other forms of gambling that are legalized in Pennsylvania are:
Similarly, top online casino gambling sites are also permitted in Pennsylvania. More so, the PGCB is also responsible for monitoring and licensing online casinos in Pennsylvania. In the past, the most popular gambling activity in Pennsylvania was a lottery. The lottery was legalized in 1971 by an act of parliament.
Meanwhile, the first horse racing track was launched more than 50 years ago, precisely 1963. The state of Pennsylvania is rated as the second biggest gambling market in the United States. Nevada is currently taking the lead as the highest earner in the US gambling market.
Most Pennsylvanians still prefer visiting the land-based casinos, although the online casino market is bubbling in the state.
Online Casino Market in Pennsylvania
Since the Pennsylvanian parliament legalized online casino gambling in 2017, the industry has recorded an immense increase in revenue. The Expanded Gaming Act in 2017 legalized online gambling in the state. To gamble at online casinos, a player must be 21 years.
Interestingly, most of the online casinos in Pennsylvania are compatible with mobile devices. Consequently, they also have mobile apps for easy gaming. Online casinos in Pennsylvania offer the following games:
The online casinos in Pennsylvania benefited immensely from the economic crises caused by the pandemic. Since land-based casinos were not functional, more citizens opted to register at online casinos. Apart from online casinos, other iGaming sectors like slots, table games, online sports betting, etc., recorded an increase in revenue. For instance, the online slots revenue recorded a 730.20 increase of up to $46,246,757.
Land-Based Casinos in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has one of the largest casino markets in the United States. Currently, the state has 12 land-based casinos. Since 2011, the land-based casinos in Pennsylvania have been earning $3 billion annually. This revenue was quite remarkable until the pandemic. Frankly, the pandemic has caused a drastic drop in the revenue generated by land-based casinos in Pennsylvania. Below is a list of land-based casinos in Pennsylvania:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- The Meadow Racetrack and Casino
- Mohegan Sun Pocono
- Parx casino
- Presque Isle Downs and Casino
- Wind Creek Bethlehem (formerly called Sand Bethlehem)
- Rivers Casino
- Rivers Philadelphia (Formerly SugarHouse)
- Mount Airy Casino
Preceding the pandemic, these casinos were a beehive of activities. Usually, most of the land-based casinos in Pennsylvania were open 24/7. However, with the restrictions, most of these casinos can barely operate with half of their capacity.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Pennsylvania Casino Market
The COVID-19 pandemic destabilized the Pennsylvania casino market. A lot of losses were recorded by the land-based casinos in Pennsylvania. According to the PGCB December 2020 reports, all the casinos in Pennsylvania recorded losses:
- Rivers Casino Pittsburgh: Their annual revenue for 2020 was down by 79.06 percent compared to 2019.
- Wind Creek Bethlehem: They recorded the second-highest loss of revenue with 78.86 percent.
- Harrah Philadelphia: With a 63.77 percent decrease, Harrah Philadelphia 2020 was a far cry from 2019.
On the other hand, Valley Forge Casino resort recorded an increase of 30.27 percent. Also, another casino that saw an increase was
Hollywood Casino recorded a 105.19 percent increase in revenue. Hollywood Casino didn’t feel the pandemic’s impact like other land-based casinos because they have an online presence. Like Hollywood Casino, Parx Casino recorded a lot of gains too. The losses recorded by the Pennsylvanians one way or the other affected the state’s revenue.
Is Online Gambling the Future in Pennsylvania?
No doubt, the online gaming market in Pennsylvania is gaining momentum since the pandemic started. However, with the increased revenue from the iGaming sector, it appears that online gambling is the industry’s future.
What’s more, will gamblers be interested in visiting land-based casinos post-pandemic? It is very unlikely considering the comfort and convenience that online gaming offers.