Gaming Revenues Are Rebounding

Summary of Study

Pennsylvania’s casinos took a big hit during the pandemic. But the losses were not as heavy as expected thanks to the advent of internet gaming, which cushioned the blow created by mandated casino closings and restricted patronage. As the pandemic wanes, people are returning to the state's casinos. Revenues and gaming tax dollars, in turn, are beginning to rebound.

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Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

Findings:

  • Total gaming revenue in 2020 came in at $2.65 billion, a 22.2% drop from the $3.41 billion realized in 2019. 
  • Gaming options in Pennsylvania have increased in recent years. Two new casinos, along with internet gaming and sports wagering, have the total gaming revenues on pace to reach $4.26 billion in 2021.
  • Slot machines are still the most prominent form of gaming and the source of property tax relief. In 2020, slot machine revenues were down 43% from 2019 ($1.35 billion vs. $2.36 billion).
  • The monthly totals for slot machine revenue in 2021 have been closing the gap from the 2015-19 average.  January 2021 fell $40 million short while April was just $4 million below.
  • Table games revenue for 2020 was down 44% from the 2019 level ($504.31 million vs. $903.59 million) and is on pace to bounce back to $772.28 million in 2021.
  • iGaming debuted in mid-2019. In 2020, the first full year, revenue rocketed to $565.8 million, largely thanks to the pandemic. Thus far in 2021, it has brought in $346.6 million in total revenue and is on pace to reach $1.045 billion, surpassing the amount from in-casino table games.
  • Sports wagering hit $189.7 million despite many sports leagues having modified seasons. This year, revenue from sports wagering is estimated to reach $318 million.
  • The new forms of gaming, which includes fantasy sports and video gaming terminals, comprised just 4% of total gaming revenues in 2019 to 30% in 2020. They're likely to be one-third of all gaming revenues in 2021 (33.5%).
  • Gaming must be kept in perspective. Government should not count on the industry to sustain the economy or keep its tax coffers full. And certainly, it cannot afford to ignore the social ills and costs that can accompany gambling addiction.

Read the full policy brief here