PA Casinos Had Record 2018, But 2019 Will Blow It Out Of The Water

Pennsylvania casinos brought in a record $3.25 billion in 2018. That number should go up substantially in 2019 thanks to sports betting and iGaming.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released the PA casino  total revenue numbers for 2018, and the news is mostly positive. Once again, the Keystone State’s 12 casinos combined to hit a new all-time high in gaming revenue.

For the third-straight year, Pennsylvania gaming revenue cleared the $3.2 billion mark. The new number to beat for 2019 is $3,248,681,377. It tops the previous high of $3,226,910,816 set in 2017.

PA Casino 2018 gross revenue breakdown

  • Slot machine revenue – $2,369,885,203
  • Table game revenue – $878,796,174
  • Total gaming revenue – $3,248.681,377

Since the opening of Pennsylvania’s first slots-only casino in 2006 (Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs), casino gambling has generated more than $32.3 billion in revenue.

Table games breakdown by PA Casino

Pennsylvania table games revenue for the year, overall, was down slightly (-1.34 percent). Five of the casinos saw a year-over-year percentage increase, with Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh seeing the biggest uptick at 15.57 percent. The numbers include a strong December in which the property won $6,662,771 — an 8.46 percent increase for the same period a year ago.

CasinoTable games revenueChange Y-o-Y
Sands Bethlehem$221,914,456 -8.74%
Parx Casino$191,259,779+7.27%
SugarHouse Casino$121,812,426+1.62%
Rivers Casino$76,043,050+15.57%
Harrah's Philadelphia$61,661, 933-5.53%
$41,896,146-16.35%
Valley Forge Casino$38,192,92910.96%
Hollywood Casino$36,136,0141.06%
Meadows Casino$35,776,680-2.26%
Mohegan Sun Pocono$35,697,387-15.84%
Presque Isle Downs$14,371,830-.68%
Lady Luck Nemacolin$4,033,544-11.32%

Here comes PA sports betting

Sports betting officially launched at Hollywood Casino at Penn National on Nov. 17. SugarHouse in Philadelphia and Rivers opened their temporary sportsbooks on Dec. 15, so PA sports betting revenue is still in its very early stages. According to PGCB numbers, the three casinos combined for a $16,173,090 handle, $2,006,546 in revenue while generating $722,356 in taxes.

This month, the PA sports betting field has already doubled in size. Parx Casino in Bensalem opened its temporary sportsbook on Jan. 10. The Parx-run South Philadelphia Turf Club held its grand opening on Jan. 17, and Harrah’s Philadelphia is cutting the ribbon on The Book this week (Jan. 24).

What about PA online sports betting?

Online sports betting in the works too, possibly with a launch coming as early as the first quarter of this year. The PGCB has yet to comment on an exact time frame.

Using New Jersey as a measuring stick for potential online sports betting revenue, the nine mobile/online sportsbooks that were operational as of December combined for $241,043,289 of the overall sports handle.

Since the first legal sports bet was placed in New Jersey back on June 14 of last year, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reported the total sports handle is now more than $1.2 billion while the total NJ sports betting revenue has hit the $94 million mark.

The PA sports betting field is only expected to continue expanding this year, setting the stage for what will be a record year in PA in 2020, given the amount of gambling expansion.

Parx Sportsbook Coming To Philadelphia This Week

Parx Sportsbook begins its two days of PGCB-monitored testing on Jan. 8. The sportsbook will fully launch on Jan. 10, just in time for the Eagles game.

The countdown to Parx Casino sports betting is down to its final hours.

The Bensalem-based property announced that sports betting will officially launch on Thursday. The launch is pending two days of testing and approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). The two-day testing period is taking place from 2 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. The trial period is open to the public.

Details on the Parx Sportsbook

Parx Casino’s temporary sportsbook is near the former 360 Bar & Lounge. Players can bet on NFL playoff games, along with MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA action and other popular American sports. There are also betting kiosks throughout the casino floor.

Matthew Cullen, senior vice president of interactive gaming and sports, spoke about how Parx Casino is “thrilled to launch legalized sports betting” in a press release:

“Parx is expanding our portfolio of offerings and giving patrons the absolute best types of legalized gaming. Sports betting will first go live at our main property, and then roll out in the South Philadelphia Turf Club and then later at the Valley Forge Turf Club.”

Parx Sportsbook operating hours

Beginning Jan. 10, sports enthusiasts will be able to bet on all their favorite games. Sports available for wagering will include:

  • College basketball
  • College football
  • NBA
  • NFL
  • NHL
  • MLB

The temporary sportsbook will be open seven days a week. Hours are as follows:

  • Mondays: 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Tuesdays-Fridays: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Sundays: 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.

The space will feature 20 high-definition televisions screens of various sizes. There are also two 16′-by-9′ screens can be split into four screens. In total, the temporary sportsbook can broadcast up to 28 games at the same time.

The temporary sportsbook will also feature seven live teller windows, a full-service bar and comfortable seating to watch the games. There will be 45 self-service sports betting kiosks in the temporary sportsbook as well as throughout the casino floor and the Parx Poker Room.

Coming soon, pending PGCB approval, is a brand-new sports betting app called Betslip Builder.

The online sports betting app can be utilized by retail players to fill out a bet slip before walking up to a kiosk or cashier to place their bets. It will help reduce the wait time at a kiosk or cashier because players will need to simply scan the QR code and fund their bets, rather than having to pick their bets with a cashier/kiosk. The app will improve and streamline the process during fast-moving games.

Parx planning sports betting expansion

The opening of the temporary sportsbook at Parx is the first phase of much bigger plans to come. The sports betting plans include building a permanent $10 million Parx Sportsbook slated for a summer opening.

In the short term, once sports betting is up and running at the main casino property, Greenwood will launch sports betting at the South Philadelphia Turf Club and Valley Forge Turf Club. Opening dates are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia Finds Its Contractor

The Live! Casino in Philadelphia’s Stadium Park area took an important step forward by hiring Gilbane as its general contractor.

The long-delayed Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia is now one step closer to becoming a reality. The property, an affiliate of the Maryland-based Cordish Companies, announced Gilbane Building Co. as the general contractor for the planned $700 million project.  The target opening date is late 2020.

The Gilbane team, a global, family-owned company, brings 145-plus years of experience to the project.

Joe Weinberg, the managing partner of the Cordish Companies, spoke about the decision to go with Gilbane in a press release:

“Gilbane was a natural fit for this project because the team is so experienced in the hospitality industry and they bring a real understanding of our vision. Their reputation for quality and dedication to excellence is a core value we both share and expect for a project of this magnitude. We look forward to getting started.”

The complex is located in the heart of the South Philadelphia Stadium District. It will be just footsteps away from where the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers play their home games. When finished, the 1.5 million-square-foot facility will “transform the area into the first integrated sports, entertainment and casino resort destination in the region.”

There is a pre-bid contractor information session on for Jan. 11. Xfinity Live!, the 4.4-acre entertainment district located within the sports complex that Cordish and Comcast-Spectacor own together, will host the event.

Stadium Casino project’s complicated history

Many may be wondering what is taking so long. Stadium Casino LLC won a Pennsylvania statewide bid for a casino license back in November 2014.  The licensing process came about after the proposed Philadelphia-based  Foxwoods Casino project failed to secure financing. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board ended up revoking its license.

The other players, including SugarHouse along with the three other applicants, decided to take the matter to court. The issue in question was tied to whether or not Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment owner Bob Manoukian’s stake in the Bensalem-based Parx prohibited him from owning more than one-third of another casino in the Keystone State.

The gambling expansion law passed in October 2017 made way for Stadium to secure a license. However, the project reached another crisis point when Greenwood decided to walk away back in October of 2018.

More about the Stadium Casino project

When completed, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia will include 2,200 slots and electronic table games along with more than 150 live action table games. There will also be an upscale 200-plus room boutique hotel, nationally-recognized restaurants, and live entertainment venues.

In the short term, patrons will soon be able to place bets at the Greenwood-owned South Philadelphia Turf Club. The property is located across the street from the Live! Casino project. The retail sports betting operation will launch during the first quarter after Parx gets up and running. Parx plans to soft launch on Tuesday.

Live! in Maryland

Cordish is the company behind the other Live! Casino and Hotel located in Maryland. It’s located a little more than 100 miles south of Philadelphia. It features gaming, dining and entertainment options as well. The property has been open since June 2012.

Parx Giving Away Sportsbook Bucks In Advance Of Launch

Parx Sportsbook won’t open until January 2019, but the PA casino is already running promos for people to win money to use on bets.

The Parx Casino retail sportsbook will very likely accept its first bet in January. The exact date is still to be determined.

As far as December goes, Parx customers have a chance to win $100 in cash to use for sports betting or the casino.  The question is, how good are you at predicting college football bowl games?

The College Bowl Game Leaderboard Challenge is one of several free-to-play games available on the Parx casino website. The person who picks the most winners during the ongoing bowl season will win the cash prize.

Yes, several games have already been played, but there are still several more left to predict, including the Jan. 7 National Championship Game.

The website promo sums it up best:

It’s early in the bowl season and anyone can still win.

Pick the winners online

Parx will be launching its online sportsbook next month. This pick-the-winner contest is a completely separate platform available via the sports betting tab on the Parx casino website. Call it training camp for the real money deal.

There are several contests to choose from, including NFL Saturday Pick 6Daily NBA Pick 5, and the NFL Pennsylvania Pick-Em. Top finishers earn free slot play, headline show tickets, and more.

The rules are pretty straightforward. Click the Play Now tab next located next to the College Leaderboard Challenge contest. The basic premise is picking the winners from the listed games with the point spreads. For those who can’t decide which teams to pick, players can elect to go with the favoritesmost popular, or random. The system keeps a running tab of the standings.

Sports betting launching soon

Parx was the one the first Pennsylvania casinos approved for a sports betting license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). The Bensalem-based casino, along with the South Philadelphia Turf Club, got the go-ahead Oct. 3.

Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment own both properties

Hollywood Casino at Penn National received licensing approval on the same date. On Nov. 17, the property located just outside of Harrisburg made history by opening Pennsylvania’s first legalized sportsbook.

Many anticipated that the Parx sportsbook would be opening sometime this month. PlayPennsylvania confirmed Parx was delaying its launch until January.

That same day, SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh held soft launches for their respective temporary sportsbooks. The common denominator between the three properties is that Kambi Group is the mutual bookmaking partner.

Following the retail launch, Parx will be able to unveil its online/mobile sportsbook. The guesstimate is sometime in the first quarter of the new year.

Kambi is the sports betting provider behind the market-leading DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey. Kambi also works with Parx. So, when Parx launches its online sportsbook, in-game wagering, straight bets, parlays, and teasers will likely be among the many betting options.

Parx Sportsbook preliminary plans

Parx will open its temporary sportsbook inside the 360 Lounge located on the casino floor. The space will include seven betting windows, a pair of 16 feet x 9 feet HD screens, along with 30 self-serve kiosks located throughout the gaming floor.

But this is just the temporary setup. A swanky $10 million permanent sportsbook is under construction. The space could be ready to go by the second quarter of next year.

Lucky Seven: Presque Isle Downs Applies For Sports Betting

Presque Isle Downs applying for sports betting means more casinos in PA will offer sports betting than won’t.

The mystery surrounding sports betting plans for Presque Isle Downs & Casino is solved.

PlayPennsylvania confirmed last week that the Erie-based racetrack and casino submitted its application for a $10 million license to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Dec. 7.

Presque Isle Downs is the seventh PA casino to apply for a sports betting license.

So far, three casinos have launched temporary retail sportsbooks. Hollywood opened on Nov. 17SugarHouse and Rivers followed on Dec. 15. Parx and Harrah’s have been approved to offer sports betting. Both expect to open their respective retail operations during the first quarter of 2019. Valley Forge Casino was approved for its sports betting license at the Dec. 19 PGCB meeting. The board is scheduled to meet again Jan. 9.

Churchill Downs taking over   

There was never a question if Presque Isle Downs would offer sports betting. It was more a matter of when will it happen. Churchill Downs Inc. announced back in March it was purchasing the property from Eldorado Resorts. This will be the Kentucky-based company’s first, and currently only casino within Pennsylvania state lines.  

Churchill Hill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen addressed the pending sale and sports betting plans during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last month. He said the sale should close “early in or at least mid-first quarter 2019.”

As far as the sports betting plans go, Carstanjen spoke briefly about the retail and online plans:

‘We are also very interested in sports wagering and will file for that license when we have clarity on our transaction closing date. It is worth noting that a sports wagering license would allow a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Presque Isle Downs as well as an online offering available throughout the state.”

Sports betting partners SBTech
and Golden Nugget

Churchill working with the Nugget in NJ

Churchill Downs, Golden Nuggetand SBTech are building a partnership in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets. In New Jersey, the three companies are working together on the Golden Nugget Atlantic City online sportsbook. There is no launch date yet. 

SBTech and BetAmerica working together in PA

SBTech, the award-winning, European-based platform provider,  will be using its BetAmerica brand to operate the Presque Isle Downs site.

Churchill Downs made its Pennsylvania sports betting intentions clear back in May when it reached a long-term strategic agreement with SBTech to partner up. The deal was brokered the same week that the Supreme Court ruled the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional.

SBTech CEO Richard Carter shared his thoughts in a May press release:

“We are thrilled to have Churchill Downs as our first US partner. Churchill is not only an iconic brand with the largest online horse race wagering business in the US, but it is also one of the fastest-growing gaming operators in the nation. The combination of Churchill’s leading presence in the US market, coupled with SBTech’s deep expertise in regulated sports betting markets globally, makes for an ideal partnership as we enter this monumental chapter in the US gaming industry.”

Carstanjen commented on the partnership in the same release, too:

“We are very excited to partner with SBTech, which we believe provides us with the industry leading platform to offer exciting, innovative integrated iGaming and sports betting products. We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience as this market emerges, and look forward to working with a global technology leader in this space as we expand our operations across the US.”

The game of sports betting connecting the dots continued into July when SBTech announced a separate agreement to supply “cutting-edge omnichannel solutions” to Golden Nugget casinos based in Biloxi and Atlantic City. 

Once approved for a license, it’ll be off to the races at Presque Isle Downs. Except this race will not involve the ponies.   

Without Launching Much Of Anything, PA Brought In $385M From Gambling Expansion

Pennsylvania brought in around $1 million a day from gambling expansion in the law’s first year of existence even though most verticals haven’t launched.

The pending launch of online sports betting and online casino games is generating attention in Pennsylvania. The exact date falls under the “coming soon to a casino near you” category.

The upfront licensing fees associated with Pennsylvania gambling expansion have injected more than $385 million into Pennsylvania coffers so far. The law went into effect in November of last year.

That figure exceeded state budget estimates, according to a press release from PlayPennsylvania.com. The figure is a combination of:

  • Upfront licensing fees for online casinos, sportsbooks and brick-and-mortar casinos
  • Mini-casino auction profits
  • Tax revenue from lottery expansion and daily fantasy sports 

Breaking down the combined numbers, Pennsylvania has netted more than $1 million a day since late 2017, according to analysis provided by PlayPennsylvania.com.

“The most notable aspect of the significant revenue that has been generated is that this is almost completely from fees, rather than tax revenue from gamblers,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Clearly, there is enough interest in Pennsylvania’s enormous market so far to generate fees.”

The equation does not include revenue from online sports betting, slots and table games, which are expected to start launching during the first quarter of 2019.

Breaking down the gambling numbers

The revenue estimates tabulated by PlayPennsylvania.com consists of a combination of official statistics and estimates based on iLottery, Keno and virtual sports sales numbers

Using return-to-player rates of the lottery games, PlayPennsylvania estimates that through October, the state has generated more than $23 million in revenue and includes:

  • Online lotto games:, $19.6 million
  • Keno: $3.6 million
  • Virtual sports: $87,000

Here is a breakdown of other sources of revenue:

  • Mini-casino auction profits:, $128 million
  • Interactive gaming petitions:, $94 million
  • Casino licensing:, $78 million
  • Sports betting petitions:, $60 million
  • Fantasy sports tax revenue: $1.4 million 

For comparison purposes, Pennsylvania collected $799.8 million in statewide slot revenues during the fiscal year 2017-18. Pennsylvania estimated in February that it will generate more than $34 billion in general fund revenues for its 2018-19 fiscal year.

Online sports betting factor

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has approved sports betting licenses for:

All of the properties plan on offering online and retail sports betting. With the opening of Rivers and SugarHouse on Thursday, there are now three retail sportsbooks in the state. Revenue from November and Hollywood Casino should come out in the next few days.

“The addition of sports betting should help buoy a slowing Pennsylvania casino industry,” said Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “If New Jersey is any indication, though, the more significant revenue generator will be online sports betting. A successful rollout there should generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state.”