Pennsylvania reported that its October Vegas casino online sports betting revenues exceeded $500 million. This marks the third consecutive record month for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania legalized sports betting exactly two years ago and questions about the state’s policies, including a record 36% tax, have been swept away as Pennsylvania sports betting skyrockets.
Pennsylvania legalized both online and retail sports betting 2 years ago. Since that time the state has attracted a large number of betting operators including both FanDuel and DraftKings Fantasy Sports operators, Parx, Fox Bet, Unibet, SugarHouse, BetRivers, Penn National, Caesars Online and BetAmerica Sportsbook. Now BetMGM is soft-launching its new online casino in Pennsylvania with a three-day “soft-launch event” in which the hours will increase from one day to the next.
BetMGM is not yet accepting sports bets. The company needs to partner with a land-based gaming partner in order to do that. However, BetMGM is hoping to launch a sportsbook before the end of the year after it secured a marketing partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL.
Currently, the only site offering online poker is PokerStars although GVC’s PartyPoker may launch by early 2021. BetMGM operates a sportsbook and a casino – with poker – in New Jersey as a single, integrated app but for the present time, the BetMGM app in Pennsylvania is a sand-alone casino app. According to Pennsylvania regulations, the company can operate up to three iGaming options and one sportsbook. It has the right to offer poker but may be waiting for PartyPoker, its New Jersey poker network, to launch first.
Until recently, BetMGM operated only in New Jersey. Now they are starting to venture further afield, first in West Virginia (September 2020) and now into Pennsylvania. The company is expected to be one of the first online casinos to launch in Michigan which legalized online casino gambling and sports betting last spring.
Pennsylvania has become a serious competitor to New Jersey for the state that sees the most gambling revenue after Nevada. In October, the state saw sports betting revenues climb to more than $500 million, mostly due to the opening of the NFL season.
In October, retail and online sportsbooks generated $525.8m in wagers. Handle rose 118% from $241.2 million over October 2019, topping the previous record handle of $462.8 million. Operator revenue almost doubled over October 2019 which yielded the state $735,539 in local share assessments and $12.5 million in state taxes.
The lead analyst for the state’s official PlayPennsylvania.com, Dustin Gouker, was quote by the Bucks County Courier Times as saying, “Local interest is a clear factor in the swell in betting this fall, pushing Pennsylvania to a record with a sports schedule in October that more resembled normal than any since March. Pennsylvania could conceivably catch Nevada in a matter of months to become the nation’s No. 2 market, especially if the Steelers continue to roll and the Eagles can somehow make a playoff run to spike local interest.“
As in New Jersey, online gambling is accounting for the vast majority of sports betting revenue. In October, online betting made up $472.3 million, or 889.8% of the month’s total handle. FanDuel Sportsbook, which is partnered with Valley Forge Casino, leads in Pennsylvania onlin sports betting but BetMGM and another new player, Barstool, are expected to start digging into FanDuel’s profits. According to Gouker, “For two years FanDuel and DraftKings have dominated the market, but the new Barstool-branded app seems to be offering the first real threat to the leaders’ market position. Whether or not Barstool can truly challenge, its rapid rise is unlike anything we’ve seen.”
In October Caesars PA joined Hollywood Casino, DraftKings Casino, BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse to up the ante in the fight to take as big of a piece of the gambling pie in Pennsylvania as possible. There are now five Pennsylvania casinos that offer a Live Dealer option that present gamers with the opportunity to play against real dealers through the online platform. A sixth operator, FanDuel, may be offering a live dealer option in the coming months in partnership with Evolution Gaming. Caesars PA has introduced Live Casino Blackjack, Live Casino Infinite Blackjack and Live Casino Roulette.
Christian Stuart, who heads Caesars Entertainment’s online and sports gaming said “Caesars is bullish on the future of iGaming—and with that, it’s important to us to continue to provide our customers the best in online gaming, with a superior experience and the latest technology. We’re excited for players to experience the fun and action of playing at a live casino table from your home or anywhere in Pennsylvania.”
FanDuel’s general manager for casino products Jesse Chemtob added “We’re really excited to offer our loyal customers more live casino games. We see live casino as a key driver for continued online casino market growth in the US, and FanDuel will now have access to Evolution’s entire live casino portfolio.”
In a first for Pennsylvania, a sportsbook with a sports pub has opened at the Wind Creek casino in Bethlehem. The sportsbook/sports pub is operated by Betfred Sports and features 31 individual TVs, eight self-service betting kiosks, two video walls and three betting windows.
In addition to the sports pub and sportsbook, the casino has a live dealer stadium, a poker room, 200 table games, slot machines, a kids’ arcade, spa, salon, outlet shops and a hotel. The restaurants and nightlife venues are currently closed. Wind Creek casino is located approximately 90 miles from Harrisburg.