Pennsylvania Online Poker Down but Other iGaming Up

Pennsylvania Online Poker Down but Other iGaming Up

The Pennsylvania gambling sector is showing its ability to rebound from the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. It is not an easy process, but most parts of this state’s gambling industry are up to the task.

Online poker has its own challenges. With only one poker site regulated by the state, it has no competition and players are limited to PokerStars only. Other online gaming operators do have casino partners and applied for licenses, but they have yet to indicate that they will launch.

So, online poker was one of only two parts of Pennsylvania gambling that didn’t see a revenue increase in March. The other was fantasy contests, though even that has increased nearly 150% year-on-year. Online poker dropped more than 23% from last March.

While online poker supporters sigh, Pennsylvania can look to most of its other gambling entities as they continue their pandemic recovery.

Further, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board did report some good news overall, as the combined gambling revenue eclipsed $400M for the first time. That number was far beyond the previous record high of $320M in October 2020. And the March numbers put the first quarter of 2021 past $1B in revenue for the first time.

Online Poker: Ho-Hum

As mentioned, the online poker segment of Pennsylvania’s internet gaming business simply couldn’t keep up with the growth, nor could it manage to keep some of the boost from the first months of the pandemic in 2020.

PokerStars launched online poker in November 2019. Since then, players have been waiting for competition from on the 888poker platform and BetMGM on the PartyPoker platform. BetMGM actually already launched in Michigan, which passed its igaming legislation bill years after Pennsylvania.

It is unclear as to why Pennsylvania is not a priority for any company besides PokerStars.

Meanwhile, revenue dropped.

–March 2021 online poker revenue: $2,401,772

–February 2021 online poker revenue: $2,520,078

–March 2020 online poker revenue: $3,133,019

Month-on-month change:  4.7% decrease

Year-on-year change:  23.34% decrease

Online poker operators must convince Governor Tom Wolf to sign the multi-state online poker sharing agreement, though other major operators must launch in Pennsylvania first to show the need.

PA iGaming: Significant March Boost

Of course, online casino games continue to thrive in Pennsylvania. Revenue from internet slots increased from February to March at a higher rate than internet table games, but they both showed great progress.

Even online poker’s decreased revenue couldn’t bring down the igaming totals.

Despite the brick-and-mortar casinos of Pennsylvania reopening and increasing capacity slowly, internet gaming remains wildly popular. If it follows the New Jersey path, it will continue to attract new customers consistently. It has already grown into such an important part of the PA gaming industry that it is helping set new revenue records, even without casinos operating at full capacity.

–March 2021 total igaming revenue: $97,689,743

–February 2021 total igaming revenue: $77,788,457

–March 2020 total igaming revenue: $24,265,820

Month-on-month change:  25.6% increase

Year-on-year change:  302.6% increase

This part of the Pennsylvania gaming industry generated $40,867,498 in March tax revenue.

Sports Wagering: Revenue and Handle Up

February was a rough one for both sports betting handle and revenue, but everything turned around in March. There were 16 sportsbooks in operation, most of them online and all but one retail (Hollywood Morgantown).

Online sports betting revenue outpaced retail revenue by nearly eight times. However, it’s only fair to note that retail sportsbooks have yet to return to full capacity.

–March 2021 sports betting handle: $560,259,181

–February 2021 sports betting handle: $509,547,820

–March 2020 sports betting handle: $131,330,059

Month-on-month change:  9.95% increase

Year-on-year change:  326.7% increase

–March 2021 sports betting revenue: $29,352,345

–February 2021 sports betting revenue: $16,379,807

–March 2020 sports betting revenue: $6,889,255

Month-on-month change:  79.2% increase

Year-on-year change:  326.1% increase

Sports wagering generated $10,566,844 in March tax revenue.

Total Gaming: Rising in March 2021

March of 2020 was the month that the pandemic hit and everything closed in the middle of the month. Gambling in any land-based establishment ground to a halt by the end of the month. Online gaming sites stepped up with options for players, but casinos, VGTs, and even sports betting (with no teams playing) stopped generating revenue.

This year’s month of March is the opposite. Those establishments are reopening and increasing capacity, pushing past the shocking numbers of last year. And with the help of internet gaming, the totals should keep rising every month going forward in 2021.

–March 2021 total gaming revenue: $403,131,336

–February 2021 total gaming revenue: $301,979,821

–March 2020 total gaming revenue: $153,481,368

Month-on-month change:  33.5% increase

Year-on-year change:  163% increase

Parx Casino was at the top of the casino list, followed by Rivers Casino Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. But all of them combined, along with video gaming terminals and fantasy contests, generated total tax revenue of $166,803,597 in March 2021, a new record.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

Related Articles