Tag: Pennsylvania

New Jersey, Pennsylvania Online Gambling Revenue See Big Uptick In March

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This was supposed to be a landmark time of the year.

Two of the biggest and flourishing legal sports betting industries were supposed to be reaping the rewards of one of the sporting year’s busiest times: March MadnessMLB, the Masters, and postseason pushes for the NBA and NHL.

What an incredible month — certainly one that would produce record-breaking sports betting handle and revenue numbers for both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Yet we were left wanting. The coronavirus pandemic shut it all down. All that’s left is what could have been.

That said, online gambling did not completely suffer. Rather, both online casinos and online poker saw an uptick. And last month, industries in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania seemingly compensated for a lack of sports.

New Jersey online gambling flourishes

Believe it or not, online gambling has been a mainstay in New Jersey for going on seven years. No month, however, has ever been as prosperous as March 2020.

Online casinos and poker operators reported a jaw-dropping $64.8 million in revenue. How big is that? Well, it sits nearly $13 million more than the previous month, for starters. More important, though, that total is the industry’s first month exceeding $60 million. And it’s actually nearly $10 million more than the state’s previous best monthly report.

If those feats aren’t enough, March 2020 numbers reflect an astonishing 65.6% increase year over year.

The kicker, though, lies with online poker. Entering March, this sector had not eclipsed $2 million in monthly revenue since August 2017. It hadn’t seen more than $3 million since October 2016. In January 2014, the state enjoyed its best poker month with $3.4 million in revenue.

You see where this is going: In March 2020, New Jersey online poker posted a whopping $3.6 million in revenue. Month over month, that’s a 101% spike.

All told, all but one online casino in the state reported record-setting revenue figures in March.

Certainly, these online platforms benefited from stay-at-home orders. Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closure of Atlantic City casinos midway through the month. And when leagues began suspending and canceling events, online casinos and poker filled the void.

PA online gambling shows a similar trend

New Jersey was not alone in rewriting the history books.

Neighboring Pennsylvania was coming off a record-setting February. As the Keystone State nears the anniversary of its first online casinos, the industry put up yet another historic month.

Already trending upward, what with revenues up over 31% month to month since December, operators in March reported some $24.3 million in online revenue, marking a 24.5% increase from February. That total breaks down to a $12.4 million/$8.8 million/$3.1 million slash line for online slots/table games/poker.

It’s not just the revenue that stands out, but also the action. Consider players in Pennsylvania accounted for $871.6 million in total wagers, up nearly $170 million from the previous month. Staggering.

Like in New Jersey, the uptick in Pennsylvania can assuredly be attributed to mass shutdowns. With casinos closing down amid the coronavirus pandemic, overall gambling revenue in Pennsylvania actually dropped by 51%.

Takeaways from NJ, PA online gambling reports

Leagues and organizers suspending and canceling events sent a shockwave across not only the country but the world. What were fans and bettors to do?

From jump street, operators who integrated online casinos with online sportsbooks or vice versa made sure to cross-promote. The two industries appeal to different demographics. Get your slot players to notice the NFL lines, for example, or market table games to the everyday sports bettor.

March 2020 emerges as the most significant example of such strategies paying off.

What’s more, online gambling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania could open the eyes of lawmakers in other states. After all, those states could certainly use revenue from somewhere, right?



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Pennsylvania Online Gambling Had A Big 2019, But What Can Be Improved For 2020?

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It feels like the awareness and legalization of online gambling did not exist until the repeal of PASPA in 2018, which opened the door for state-sanctioned sports betting.

Certainly, that is not the case. Prior to that historic decision by the US Supreme Court, several states enacted legislation to launch (or even went as far as launching) regulated online gaming markets. That includes Pennsylvania.

In 2017, the Keystone State passed into law a gambling expansion package that allowed online casinos, online poker and online sports betting. It was not until well over a year later that any of the verticals rolled out.

The lengthy waits have been well-documented, and so too have the drawbacks of such delays. Regardless, Pennsylvania stands as one of just three states with all three regulated markets operational.

And despite prolonged holdups, PA online gambling appears well on its way to a bright future. The Keystone State could get their faster, though, by addressing several issues while continuing to perpetuate its assets.

The good of Pennsylvania online gambling

PA sports betting off to strong start

Start with the obvious: Pennsylvania sports betting has boomed.

In its first year, legalized wagering in the state generated more than $1.1 billion in bets. And despite facing a sky-high tax rate of 36%, operators pocketed nearly $75 million in revenue.

Overall handle has increased in each month since April, a credit not only to thriving competition but also to the advent and swift takeover of betting apps. (Online wagers account for better than 80% of overall bets placed in Pennsylvania.)

Of course, football season helped: Each month between August and November featured handle totals exceeding $100 million – including November’s record total of $316 million.

With eight betting apps and 12 retail sportsbooks, Pennsylvania continues to expand its sports betting industry as it attempts to rival New Jersey and Nevada as legal sports betting powers. (For perspective, nearby New Jersey needed seven months to eclipse $1 billion.)

PA online casinos, poker establishing footholds

The other two online verticals in Pennsylvania operate in the shadows of sports betting. Like regulated wagering, though, online casinos and online poker remain in their infancy.

That said, the group of Pennsylvania online casinos has increased to five operators since going live in July 2019. In November, that collective totaled some $7.6 million in revenue, reflecting a $2.75 million increase from October. Since launching with three operators, online casinos in Pennsylvania have spiked $6.88 million in revenue.

As for online poker, November marked the first month of the vertical in the Keystone State. And it did not disappoint, as PokerStars debuted with rake and tournament fees totaling near $2 million.

Big names, big competition, big appetite for PA online gambling

Fear abounded that Pennsylvania’s high tax rates and licensing fees would prevent the state from reaching anything close to full maturity.

Who could blame them? Even today, PA’s rates stand as the highest in the country.

Operators, however, flocked toward the Keystone State; those who saw rising success in New Jersey opened up shop in PA. The likes of DraftKings SportsbookFanDuel Sportsbook and Fox Bet (among others) have thrown their hats into the Pennsylvania sports betting ring. As has Unibet, which, like SugarHouse and Parx, also powers an online casino.

Competition gradually swelled as 2019 wore on, seemingly in stride with the PA public’s growing hunger for and acceptance of online gambling.

How hungry has the public been? Of the state’s top five properties in terms of revenue during November 2019, four enjoyed noticeable boosts year over year – in part because of online gambling products:

  • Parx Casino: +12.58%
  • Rivers Pittsburgh: +14.48%
  • Rivers Philadelphia: +23.35%
  • Hollywood Casino: +9.13%

To boot, properties such as Valley Forge (+71.38%) and Mount Airy (+31.64%) saw big spikes from November 2018, again in part to the advent of online gambling.

The not-so-good aspects of Pennsylvania online gambling

In hindsight, not much was terrible about Pennsylvania’s modernization.

Initially, the state’s gouging tax rates and licensing fees didn’t sit right with stakeholders or analysts. They still don’t, of course, what with Pennsylvania’s rates still sitting as the highest in the country. That said, while that certainly has affected the bottom line for some, those rates have yet to scare off operators, who continue to hold an optimistic outlook for the potential of online gambling.

Then, of course, there was the whole Wire Act debacle of 2019. Just before the close of 2018, the Department of Justice issued an updated opinion of the act, essentially noting that the Wire Act should pertain to all forms of online gambling and thus prohibited under federal law.

As the New Hampshire Lottery started mounting its case against the DOJ (one that is still circulating through the courts), Pennsylvania maintained a cautionary approach. The state required operators to establish in-state servers and to submit plans to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board explaining how they would come into compliance should the new Wire Act opinion become enforced.

Such tactics no doubt delayed the debut of online casinos and online poker in Pennsylvania. Additionally, it restricts the title selection in the state.

How Pennsylvania online gambling could improve

Simply because Pennsylvania has opened up all three online verticals does not mean the state’s work is complete. These industries want to grow more. They want to become innovative. These are the paths Pennsylvania can take to help each industry reach its full potential – or at least close to it.

As such, moving forward, it would be ideal for Pennsylvania to be looking out for its casinos. While the safe bet is the following will not occur, it would sure help online gambling become even more profitable.

First, revisiting the tax rates would allow for industry stakeholders to open up their wallets more. Obviously the state claiming a larger take does not allow operators to take advantage of marketing and promotional tools. In such marginal industries, operators are already left with low percentage profits. These rates only dig into those pockets even more.

Certainly, Pennsylvania is unlikely to make any changes soon (if ever) surrounding tax rates. But what about its stance on the Wire Act opinion? One court has already ruled in favor of the NH Lottery condemning the DOJ’s take on the Wire Act. And now the DOJ is appealing that ruling. As such, that opinion appears a far cry from being enforceable.

Regardless, Pennsylvania remains cautious. And as a result, operators in the state are limited in what games and titles they can offer, while others can’t even get a foot in the PA door because of a lack of in-state servers.

Looking forward, what price could Pennsylvania pay by requiring so much of stakeholders? Under status quo, could Pennsylvania fall well short of its potential?

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie essentially said as much in 2019, noting that these fees “are not going to encourage innovation” or “investment in the properties.”

“Every dollar you pay in licensing fees or in taxes is a dollar you don’t have available to bring new types of betting to the floor, to have state-of-the-art products to allow the experience to be more enjoyable. That’s why I think they are missing the boat.

“In the end, it’s a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The long-term problem is they’re not going to invest in getting Pennsylvanians the best technology because they spent all they are going to spend on the licensing fees and the taxes.”

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A Win For Michigan, A Win For Pennsylvania, A Loss For Wynn

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‘Twas week before Christmas, and all through the nation, sports betting bills passed through state legislation.”

With the swoop of a pen, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made wolverines cheer, as the leader in Michigan gave legalized wagering the all-clear.

Another state, Pennsylvania, hung its stocking with braggadocios care. You would, too, if you took in $1 billion over the past year.

Many states and stakeholders have much to boast about. When Christmas day arrives, most will see gifts and joy abound. But one stocking is drooping, nearly touching the floor; with this much coal already for Steve Wynn, could it take much more?

End of obligatory holiday poem. Let’s get to the biggest news of last week.

Michigan sports betting is officially a go

Once again, the week’s biggest news involves Michigan. And fittingly, the week’s biggest news came on a Friday.

Whitmer signed off on the Lawful Sports Betting Act, among other bills, to officially legalize Michigan sports betting.

In addition to regulated wagering, Michigan saw the legalization of online casinos, online poker and daily fantasy sports. Big day for the Big Mitten. All told, the package of bills became the largest gambling expansion in the state’s history.

As it’s laid out, Michigan’s three commercial and 23 tribal casinos would be permitted to pursue sports betting licenses, shelling out a combined $150,000 for application and licensing. They would also be obligated to pay an 8.4% tax on adjusted gross sports betting receipts; commercial casinos would pay an additional 1.25% tax to the city of Detroit.

The man who correctly predicted Whitmer would sign off on legislation before Christmas, Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. also told Legal Sports Report that Michigan could roll out retail sportsbooks in time for March Madness.

Pennsylvania’s sports betting capital? Billa-delphia

Pun stretch or not, facts rarely tell lies.

A year after Hollywood Casino opened the doors to Pennsylvania’s first retail sportsbook, the Keystone State has exceeded $1 billion in handle. Total wagers in November set a single-month record in Pennsylvania as the public laid down over $316 million.

That total actually pushed PA’s lifetime handle to some $1.1 billion. And with more operators still expected to join the market, that second billion should come in short order.

The likes of FanDuel Sportsbook, a relatively late-comer to the PA party, has taken control of about 36% of the marketplace. For perspective, Rivers Philadelphia accounts for around 21% of wagers placed.

Pennsylvania’s lofty tax rates (a 36% take) obviously provides a hit to the wallet of operators. Even so, they still registered $75 million in profits during that first year. So, not too shabby.

Nearby New Jersey will always remain the standard, especially for Pennsylvania. As PlayPennsylvania laid out, the Garden State crossed the billion-dollar finish line seven months into operations. But Pennsylvania continues to expand. It boasts 12 retail sportsbooks and eight betting apps. But those numbers will surely change in the coming months.

Losses abound for casino mogul Steve Wynn

The L’s keep piling up for good ol’ Steve Wynn.

The former Las Vegas magnate has faced a mountain of allegations regarding sexual misconduct in the workplace that ultimately led to his resignation. And last week, the Nevada Gaming Commission declared that it holds jurisdiction to discipline Wynn further. His attorneys argued otherwise, seeing as the 77-year-old, who has denied these allegations, no longer works in the state gambling industry and now lives in Florida.

Unsurprisingly, Wynn’s attorneys intend to appeal to the state Supreme Court as they question whether the gaming commission actually has jurisdiction.

In any case, Wynn just can’t win.

His company, Wynn Resorts, was fined $20 million by the NGC last year for failing to look into claims of sexual misconduct made against Wynn before he resigned. Interestingly, regulators in Massachusetts levied another $35 million in fines against Wynn Resorts for not disclosing the years of allegations against Wynn.

Last month, Wynn agreed to pay $20 million in damages, and insurance carriers will pay $21 million on behalf of current or former employees of Wynn Resorts. Per the agreements, none of this is an “admission of wrongdoing.”

Overall, it looks like it’s a stocking full of coal this year for the disgraced mogul.

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