Thanks to a major boost as the result of the aggressive new expansion of gambling authorized by state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, Pennsylvania’s commercial casinos have reached an all-time high in revenue.
Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest commercial casino state, took an even deeper plunge into gambling that allowed people to bet online, in airports and at truck stops for the first time. The major expansion of gambling in the state was largely due to government leaders searching for money to plug holes in Pennsylvania’s tattered finances.
Their plan worked. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, revenue at the state’s 12 casinos, as well as through fantasy sports contests and video gambling terminals at truck stops, rose in 2019 by $146 million, or 4.5%, over 2018 to above $3.4 billion.
For the fifth straight calendar year, casino revenue in Pennsylvania has grown.
A Breakdown of the Revenue Figures
Slot machine revenue was the lion’s share of the revenue at almost $2.4 billion, but shrank about $7 million. Revenue from table games rose by about $25 million to above $900 million.
The fiscal year 2019 demonstrated revenue coming in from the initial excitement of offering online gambling, sports betting, and video gambling terminals at truck stops.
Sports betting contributed over $84 million in profit, while online gambling through several licensed casinos contributed nearly $34 million. Over $2 million in revenue was achieved at video gambling terminals available at truck stops throughout PA. Daily fantasy sports contests brought in a whopping $26 million. This is over $10.5 million more from 2018, and a clear indication that sports gambling is on the rise.
Online Sports Betting Continues to Heat Up
The most lucrative online gambling vertical in Pennsylvania is sports betting. Last December, operators collected $14.5 million in revenue from online sports betting, dwarfing the $2.2 million generated in the market from land-based (retail) sports wagering.
Despite the fact that the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is technically gambling on sports, and the biggest operators also offer sports betting in Pennsylvania, sports betting figures reported by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board do not include revenue from DFS operators.
Protecting Pennsylvania’s Tax Revenue
Apart from Nevada (of course), Pennsylvania casinos bring in more gross revenues than any other state in the US. This is a statistic according to figures gathered by the American Gaming Association. But Pennsylvania is the No. 1 state in tax revenue from the casino industry, netting $1.4 billion in the most recent fiscal year.
Pennsylvania’s lottery is also one of the nation’s biggest, delivering $1 billion in profits on $4 billion in sales, though its revenue has flattened.
Lawmakers saw the casino gambling expansion as a way to bring in more tax revenue to their districts and pet projects. Wolf had also focused on ensuring that a gambling expansion would not damage the state’s existing tax collections from casino revenues or receipts from the struggling Pennsylvania Lottery.
When talks of the gambling expansions were still taking place, Wolf told reporters this:
“There’s been a lot of pressure from a lot of places in the commonwealth to actually expand this and we do need some recurring revenue. Again, the goal has been all along to do what’s prudent, not cannibalize existing gambling revenue coming to the state, and I think what we’re settling on will actually do that.”