- Casinos in Pennsylvania see results fall by $800 million in 2020 year-over-year
- Digital gaming and sports betting prop up results from the ailing retail sector
- Poker operations still continue to grow at a modest pace
Pennsylvania’s 13 casinos fell short by $800 million year-over-year in terms of revenue during 2020, data from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has revealed.
Casinos in Pennsylvania $800M Down in Revenue
Pennsylvania’s casinos took a hit last year, with all properties posting collective $800 million in year-over-year revenue difference. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, many casinos saw months of draught with operations shuttered and a trickle of customers ebbing and flowing from casinos.
While much has improved since March 2020, nobody expects a speedy recovery. In fact, pre-pandemic levels will probably remain elusive for at least another year or two, experts predict.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), casinos posted a total of $2.6 billion in terms of revenue in 2020, or a 22% drop from the $3.4 billion collected in 2019 by the Keystone State’s 13 casino properties.
In 2020, though, casinos remained shuttered for a third of the year, meaning much slimmer pickings for them, not to mention the added drawback of a highly-infectious disease turning away many patrons.
Tax revenue fell to $1.1 billion, a 22% drop, which was still not too bad all things considered, allowing the state a sort of a lifeline during the nadir of the pandemic. Internet gambling naturally soared and sports betting began returning back to normal in the third quarter of the year.
Interactive Gaming and Wagering to the Rescue
The state is now depending on increase in iGaming and interactive wagering as Gov. Tom Wolf is hoping tax proceeds from these verticals would make it possible to offset the worst of the pandemic-induced financial losses.
The worst affected seemed slots and most table games, but this didn’t stop many patrons to switch to online solutions instead. As things stood, sports wagering took a massive surge with a 126% revenue increase year-over-year in 2019, up to $190 million, and Internet gaming hitting the whopping $565.8 million last year.
Another interesting thing to note here is that while sports betting is often the most talked-about vertical, it’s actually iGaming driving the bulk of the overall revenue. Despite the digital gaming rush, however, all casinos saw moderate to massive drop in their revenues.
Back to Normal Is Not an Option
The pandemic may have ushered in a new normal, argues Alan Woinski, the chief executive of Gaming USA Corp. According to him, the country and the casino industry are not going to go back to the way things were any time soon.
In fact, according to him, the land-based industry faces significant challenges that may not be so easily surmountable. Mobile will play an increasing role, as attested by the decision of Las Vegas Sands Corp. earlier this year to start exploring online gaming options.
In the meantime, cashless payment solutions have become the norm for many casinos, which are trying to push harder for the introduction of touchless payment system pending regulatory approval.
Apart from the logistical challenges, Woinski said that the industry expects to face another issue – people unwilling to go back to casinos because of fears that indoors masses could lead to transmission of the virus.
However, Woinski is confident that iGaming and interactive wagering should remain two of the main drivers of revenue for states and their gambling industries. In the meantime, poker is probably going to continue driving results in ebbs and flows, with new players joining and some of them sticking around.
PokerStars, one of the best-represented companies in the state, said that it had generated $35 million in its first year of operation. PokerStars is still the only running online card room in the Keystone State.