Pennsylvania has long been one of the strongest gambling markets in the US. It legalized gambling only a decade ago, but the substantial and dynamic growth has reached the point where this state can even rival revenues of Nevada.
Over the years the state’s gambling industry has proven its resilience, and has even managed to grow in 2020 despite the pandemic measures that have taken a serious toll on all land-based casinos.
The total tax revenue in Pennsylvania was $471.4 million in the first five months of the current fiscal year, which is an increase of $33 million compared to the same period last year. The effect of land-based casino closures and other restrictions have yet to be seen in the upcoming report, but it is unquestionable that Pennsylvania will fare better than other states.
Casinos in the state have been forced to close twice, with the first lockdown having lasted two and a half months, while the second one lasted less than a month, with restrictions lifted on 4 January.
Many new players joined the PA online gambling market in 2020. Big name players such as BetMGM, Leadstar, Caesars and many more have entered the state, and PA also auctioned several casino licenses. Doug Harbach, speaking on behalf of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, said that the state will likely see a 25% increase in share tax revenue from legal gambling.
Online gambling and sports betting generated $130 million in tax revenue during the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, states like Nevada that rely on traditional gambling have suffered a dramatic hit as they are primarily travel destinations, and the pandemic restrictions affected air travel a great deal. Also, Nevada focuses mainly on land-based casinos and resorts, while states like Pennsylvania are open to online gambling and are seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the tide that is legalizing online gambling and online sports betting across the US.
Of course, Nevada is still far ahead of Pennsylvania in terms of revenue, as Nevada makes more in a month than PA does in a year, but the pace with which PA is closing in cannot be ignored. The only sector that showed an increase in revenue in Nevada is sports betting, as it doubled from the year before. Record football betting handle of $502m led to record football revenue of $55.9m, thanks to the addition of an extra week of NFL action and the NFL stadium attendance restrictions, forcing most people to watch the games from home.
In early January, Bally’s Corp announced that it is developing and opening a $120 million casino in Pennsylvania through a joint venture with real estate developer Ira Lubert. The casino will be situated in Nittany Mall in Centre County.
This is a ‘mini’ or ‘satellite’ Category 4 casino that may house between 300 and 750 slots. This will be the 13th casino in Pennsylvania, and Bally’s has also stated that they are working on obtaining licenses to operate sports betting, online sports betting and online Bally’s gaming at the new casino.