According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), an all-time gambling revenue record was set in May 2021. A total of $413,182,161 was generated through all forms of gambling regulated through the PGCB, including fantasy contests, which is an increase of 42.08% from May 2019 which generated $290,803,957. There is no figure from a year ago as all casinos, sportsbooks, and Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) were not in operation in May 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Not only did Pennsylvania set a new monthly record with over $413-million in gambling revenue, which topped the previous record of $403.1 million that was set in April 2021, but the online gaming platform regulated by the PGCB saw a record $101.2 million in revenues for the first time in state history. The top earner online was Penn National Gaming, the state’s oldest gaming operator, who reported gross revenues of $41.3 million during May 2021 with the interactive platform operated by Rivers coming in second with $27 million. Speculation is that the trusted brand of Penn National, along with name recognition, has drawn a lot of newcomers to the platform since COVID-19 forced gamblers to seek online alternatives when land-based casinos were shut down.
All the numbers for May 2021 came from regulated gaming sources in the state which includes slot machines, table games, sports wagering, fantasy contests, VGTs, and online casino gaming.
A Full Breakdown of Stats Follows
The PGCB has broken down the May 2021 gambling revenue total showing which games have generated how much revenue. Here’s a summary of that data.
Slot Machine Totals
Slots generated total gross revenues of $201,390,367. That is a slight drop of 3.91% from the May 2019 total of $209,579,851. There were no figures from May 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. In May 2021 there were a total of 22,496 slot machines in operation and they generated total tax revenues for the state of $102,992,421.
Table Game Totals
The table game revenue for May 2021 was $77,229,031. That was up just 0.87% from the same period in 2019 where the table game revenue total was $76,559,198. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are no figures for comparison from May 2020. The tax revenue collected from table game activity was $12,425,894 in May 2021.
Internet (iGaming) Totals
Online casino games generated total revenues in May 2021of $101,251,771 – the first time since iGaming had been launched in Pennsylvania that the monthly revenue had topped the $100 million mark. It was also just about double that of the $55,838,787 collected through iGaming a year ago. Tax revenue coming from internet casino game activity in May 2021 totaled $41,735,651.
Sports Wagering Totals
The May 2021 total for sports wagering was $27,746,484 which was up considerably from a year ago when the revenue figure for the month was $4,828,989. The May 2020 figure was severely impacted by the shutdown of most major league sporting events in response to COVID-19 restrictions.
At the end of May 2021, a total of four VGT terminal operators had the maximum permitted five machines at 46 different truck stops in the state. The total adjusted revenue figures for VGTs during the month were $3,601,864.
Fantasy Contest Totals
Fantasy Contests generated a massive amount of revenue compared to the same time last year. The May 2021 total was $1,962,644, an increase of 516% from May 2020’s total of $318,840. Again, the COVID-19 shut down a year ago of all major sporting events harmed fantasy contests a year ago.
A Bit of History
Gambling in Pennsylvania was legalized in July 2004. There are several legal forms of gambling in the state including casinos, the state lottery, horse racing, bingo, and games of chance that are conducted by taverns and non-profit organizations. There are a total of six race tracks in Pennsylvania, each containing a casino. The largest one is Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem which opened in November 1974. It features 24-hour gaming with over 3,200 slot machines, 188 live table games, a 48-table poker room, live racing, simulcast action, sports betting, online gambling, online sports betting, off-track betting, and many restaurants and bars. There are five standalone casinos, two resort casinos, eight truckstops with VGTs, a state lottery, and more across the state.
Pennsylvania is only second to Nevada in gambling revenues collected annually through legalized gaming. The state also has the highest casino tax rate in the United States where slot machines are taxed at 55 percent. Table games, on the other hand, are taxed at 14 percent. That includes poker, blackjack, craps, and roulette. An interesting note to consider is that with the popularity of the gambling industry in Pennsylvania, casinos located in Atlantic City blame the loss of gaming revenue they have experienced over the years on the Pennsylvania gaming laws that opened up gambling in the state. Stats indicate that casinos in New Jersey have had a drop in gambling revenue of over 40 percent since 2007.
Fines Also Issued
The PGCB issued few fines during May 2021. Boyd Gaming which owns and operates the Valley Forge Casino Resort was slapped with a $150,000 fine for not disclosing facts to the state related to the suitability of a principal. The same venue was caught allowing an underage person to gamble which earned them an additional $14,000 fine. Penn National received a $70,000 fine for permitting a self-excluded person to gamble. The same venue had an extra $50,000 fine resulting from two employees who stole money from gambling operations that altered the revenue reports to the PGCB. Both employees have since been terminated.
Pennsylvania sits comfortably near the top of the list of states that generate the most revenue through gambling. With the pandemic forcing land-based casinos to close for part of last year, it left gamblers with no other way to keep their betting skills in place other than the internet. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has legalized online gambling and has many licensed professional options available which have contributed to the monthly gambling revenue figures. The future of gambling in Pennsylvania looks promising with two records set in May 2021 and the peak gambling season is yet to start.