PA iGaming Sites Soar Toward Record $100 Million Revenue In March

A huge spike in slots and table games, led by Penn National and Rivers iGaming brands, spurred a new record for PA online casinos in March.

PA iGaming reached new record highs in March 2021, flirting with $100 million in monthly revenue for the first time ever, according to numbers released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Thursday.

Altogether, PA online casinos (online slots and table games) and online poker brought in $97.7 million, besting last month’s revenue of $77.8 million by a whopping 25.6%.

Last month, newly-launched Michigan got the nod for second in online casino revenue, behind New Jersey, but MI and PA were neck and neck.

While it’s not likely that Pennsylvania will surpass NJ in online casino revenue just yet, these numbers may help the Keystone State regain its second-place spot...at least for this month.

Breaking down PA online casino revenue in March 2021

After a strong and steady Dec.-Feb., the only months with revenue above $70 million, March brought all-time highs for slots and table games at Pennsylvania’s now 13 online casinos.

Online slots in March:

  • Total wagers: $1.8 billion
  • Revenue: $66.4 million
  • State tax: $22.6 million
  • County/local tax: $13.3 million

Online table games in March:

  • Total wagers: $1.5 billion
  • Revenue: $28.9 million
  • State tax: $4.0 million
  • County/local tax: $577K

Slot revenue saw a massive 31.3% revenue jump over the previous month, while online tables had a healthy 16.9% increase.

PokerStars PA, still the only online poker operator in the state, took a slight dip from February’s $2.5 million to $2.4 million in March revenue.

PA online casino leaders in March 2021

With relatively recent additions of BetMGM Casino and Borgata Online Casino, the PA iGaming market is zooming toward maturity. In PA, each land-based iGaming license holder can partner with up to three “skins” or online casino brands. As a result, it’s no surprise that Penn National remains a leader in online casino revenue. Penn now has Hollywood Casino, DraftKings Casino, and BetMGM Casino contributing to its online revenue. Those three sites combined for $33.6 million in revenue in March, a 20% increase over Feb.

Rivers Philadelphia is not far behind with its sister brands, BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse. Those two sites brought in $27.1 million in March revenue, representing a huge 50% increase over the previous month. Most of that growth came from slots, which brought in $22.6 million ($15.1 million in February).

The third place operator is Valley Forge Casino. With just one online gaming brand, FanDuel, VF took in $16.4 million in revenue. There is a large drop-off between FanDuel and the next highest revenue earner, Parx.

PA iGaming operator revenue in March 2021

Casino OperatorTotal RevenueSlots RevenueTable Games Revenue
Penn National (DraftKings, Hollywood, BetMGM)$33.6 million$22.2 million$11.4 million
Rivers Philly (SugarHouse & BetRivers)$27.1 million$22.6 million$4.4 million
Valley Forge (FanDuel)$16.4 million$7.1 million$9.3 million
Parx Casino$6.1 million$5.3 million$801,000
Mount Airy (PokerStars & Fox Bet)$4.8 million$2.9 million$1.9 million
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Unibet)$3.4 million$2.9 million$489,000
Harrah's Philly (Caesars)$1.6 million$1.3 million$298,000
Wind Creek Casino$1.4 million$1.4 million-$2,000
Presque Isle Downs (TwinSpires)$499,000$168,000$330,000
Live! Casino Philadelphia (PlayLive!)$426,000$396,000$30,000
Totals:$95.3 million$66.4 million$28.9 million

Lead image via Dreamstime.

PA-Based Penn National Could Become An Industry Leader In Cashless Gaming

Cashless gaming is another way that gambling companies like Pennsylvania’s Penn National are trying to modernize their services.

You’ve possibly used Apple Wallet, Google Pay, or a number of other apps to make purchases in stores using nothing but your smartphone before. That same technology could soon become as commonplace in Pennsylvania casinos, as cashless gaming systems mature.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are also on the horizon as banking options for gamblers. It’s all an effort by companies like PA-based Penn National Gaming (PNG) to make sure they accept the payment forms consumers prefer to use.

Is cashless gaming coming to PA casinos?

New, electronic payment options seem more a matter of when than if at this point. Last week, PA Gaming Control Board executive director Kevin O’Toole told PlayPennsylvania the agency is working toward providing a regulatory framework for various cashless funding sources.

The use of such payment methods is already available in disparate, sparse places in the US when it comes to gambling. For example, Boyd Gaming has introduced a digital wallet into its rewards program. Patrons at Boyd properties in Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio have access to “BoydPay.”

For gamblers unfamiliar with the concept of a digital wallet, it’s essentially an electronic version of your bank card. The payment tool is an app on your smartphone, which has the payment details stored. Soon, any business that doesn’t accept this kind of payment will become obsolete.

Why cashless systems are popular

There are three benefits to both payees and payors in this system. First, it provides an added layer of protection for customers’ financial details, as the system doesn’t actually use the 16 digits on your bank card.

Secondly, it reduces contact between employees and guests in a couple of ways. There is less physical currency that changes hands and customers never have to touch processing equipment as they would in the process of swiping a bank card.

Third, it allows companies like Penn National a way to seamlessly integrate customer loyalty programs. Research shows consumers are starting to expect such offerings. It’s a natural marketing tool, as well.

How close are PA gambling companies like Penn to implementing acceptance of this type at their brick-and-mortar facilities? PNG is working on the answer to that question.

PNG properties could see program soon

Eric Schippers, PNG’s senior vice president for government relations and public affairs, signaled that this effort is getting the company’s foremost attention.

“We recently launched our MyChoice loyalty program mobile app,” Schippers explained. “Which will provide us with an environmentally friendly and more efficient way to communicate, interact, and engage with our guests. The 35 to 54 age group is currently the most engaged audience with the app, which is very encouraging as this group represents a growing segment of our different business channels.”

When retailers like grocers have been accepting cashless payments for years, why has it taken so long for the gambling industry to catch up? Concerns about responsible gambling have slowed rollout. However, it’s all about perspective.

How cashless systems actually benefit responsible gambling efforts

The primary hesitation about giving gambling operators the green light to use cashless systems is responsible gambling. Put simply, the fear is that with no physical currency leaving gamblers’ wallets, more of them will struggle to stick to their budgets.

That’s more of a lack of an understanding of the technology than a legitimate concern, though. The fact is that cashless systems give gamblers who prefer to play in-person rather than online some of the same protections that online gamblers enjoy.

For instance, users of PNG’s MyChoice app could use the app to set custom spending and time limits. The app can also provide them with real-time statements of their gambling activity, including how much money and time they’ve spent.

Awareness is a key safeguard against developing a compulsive gambling issue. Gambling companies are also becoming more aware of cryptocurrencies.

Kicking the tires on Bitcoin

Right now, acceptance of cryptocurrencies is something that gambling companies are keeping at arms’ length. They are making sure to keep it within their sights, though.

IGT, which provides gaming software to a number of US companies, has a patent on cryptocurrency acceptance in its digital wallet system. While it does not have any partners currently employing that option, it could only be a matter of time.

The unregulated nature of the currency that makes it attractive to many consumers could be an exact hindrance in the gambling industry. Cashless gaming systems are in their infancy. For that reason, it’s likely regulators will want to stick to federally-regulated bank cards for the time being.

PNG seems on board with that idea as well. When it does start accepting digital wallet payments, it will likely restrict the options to debit cards.

In the near future, playing a slot at The Meadows may only require you to wave your phone in front of the machine. PNG wants to be among the first to make that option available not only in PA but across the nation.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Wayne Parry

February Revenue: Online Casinos Save The PA Gaming Bacon With Another $70M-Plus Month

Overall PA gaming revenue was steady year-over-year in February thanks to some huge gains in online casinos and sports betting.

According to state figures, the combined total revenue generated from all forms of gaming and fantasy contests during February was almost $302 million, a decline of less than 1% compared to a year ago.

January revenue, by contrast, was more than $311 million.

PA online casino revenue in February was above $70 million for the third month straight.

The release of the gaming revenue figures came exactly one year since the virus pandemic led to orders to shutter all Pennsylvania casinos for what was then an indefinite period, setting off a rippling shockwave that is still being felt.

The virus’s effects began several weeks before the ordered state shutdown and likely had some influence on last February revenue numbers.

Michigan sprints past PA in revenue

Despite a record for per-day revenue of $2.8 million for all online games in February, Pennsylvania is now just the third-largest online casino market in the U.S.

Newly launched Michigan is in second place, and New Jersey remains first.

Looking back a year, PA statewide revenue was down by just .78%, from $304.4 million in 2020 to nearly $302 million this February.

Total online gambling revenue in February was nearly $77.8 million.

Online slots accounted for nearly $50.9 million. Table games brought in nearly $24.7 million in revenue and poker revenue in February was just above $2.5 million.

Total tax revenue generated collectively through all forms of gaming, including video gaming terminals and fantasy contests, was nearly $122.9 million during February.

Revenue online rocketed, retail hung on

Over the past year, retail slots were down by nearly 27% to $145.8 million, and retail table games revenue fell off by nearly 25.9%.

But PA online casino games saved the gaming revenue bacon.

Online slot revenue jumped more than 425% in 12 months. And online table games climbed 207.5%.

While down from record revenues, online poker was still up YoY in February by almost 37.7%, with more than $2.5 million in revenue.

Sports betting revenue from all sources was up more than 246.9% over last year, with combined revenue of more than $16.4 million. Total handle was $509.5 million, PA’s fourth best month.

An uneven experience year-over-year

The bounce-back from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic appears extremely uneven at the casino properties.

Double-digit decreases in revenue percentages during this February versus a year ago were the norm for most casinos, but several properties defied the trend.

Two – Hollywood and Valley Forge – posted amazing numbers.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National was up just over an astounding 82% at almost $41.9 million, largely due to online. Online accounted for nearly $28 million at Hollywood. The online slot revenue was nearly $17.7 million. Online table games were more than $10.3 million.

The other gainers were:

  • Valley Forge Casino Resort up more than 66.4% with more than $31.5 million.
  • Mount Airy Casino up more than 3.9%,  up to nearly $19.5 million this February.

Revenue percentage losers outnumbered winners

The biggest loser year-over-year was Rivers Pittsburgh, down nearly 38%, with revenue of nearly $21.5 million, compared to $34.6 million a year ago.

The other percentage losers were:

  • Parx at 18.8% down.
  • Rivers Casino Philadelphia at nearly 6% off.
  • Wind Creek Bethlehem off more than 29.3%.
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono down 25.6%.
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia off more than 32%.
  • The Meadows Casino down more than 26%.
  • Presque Isle Downs and Casino off more than 27.6%.

February PA online casino breakdown by operator

A complete breakdown of February revenue, including slots and table games by operator (online gaming license holder), can be found here:

Casino OperatorTotal RevenueSlots RevenueTable Games Revenue
Penn National (DraftKings, Hollywood, BetMGM)$28.0 million$17.6 million$10.3 million
Rivers Philly (SugarHouse & BetRivers)$18.0 million$15.1 million$2.8 million
Valley Forge (FanDuel)$15.5 million$6.7 million$8.9 million
Mt. Airy (PokerStars & Fox Bet)$4.7 million$3.3 million$1.4 million
Parx Casino$4.0 million$3.5 million$475,000
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Unibet)$2.1 million$1.9 million$204,000
Harrah's Philly (Caesars)$1.4 million$1.1 million$242,000
Wind Creek Casino$656,000$718,000($62,000)
Presque Isle Downs (Twinspires)$518,000$200,000$319,000
Live! Casino Philadelphia (PlayLive!)$397,000$370,000$27,000
Totals:$75.3 million$50.6 million$24.7 million

Casino operators by the numbers

The clear front-runners in PA’s online casino race are Penn National (which includes DraftKings, Hollywood, and BetMGM), Rivers Philadelphia (which includes SugarHouseBetRivers, and the brand new Borgata Casino), and Valley Forge, with FanDuel.

A look at top PA online casino operators in February:

  • Penn: Total revenue $28 million (slots: $17.6 million; table games: $10.3 million).
  • Rivers Philly: Total revenue $18 million (slots: $15.1 million; tables: $2.8 million).
  • Valley Forge: Total revenue $15.5 million (slots: $16.7 million; tables: $8.9 million).

Lead image via Dreamstime.

PA Online Casino Revenue Surges Past $70 Million in December 2020 with Big Push from Penn

PA online casinos set new record highs in December 2020, helped along by retail casino closures and new additions like BetMGM.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced a new monthly record for revenue generated by iGaming. December sports wagering handle was also the highest ever for PA.

Casino games online generated more than $71.6 million in gross revenue during December 2020 compared to just above $10.6 million a year earlier.

December easily eclipsed the previous revenue high for online casino gaming, set in October 2020 at more than $59.7 million.

Online casino and online table games together had revenue of nearly $68.9 million in December. By contrast, retail revenue collectively tallied just more than $59.2 million.

Tax revenue generated from internet gaming play during December 2020 was more than $29 million.

Closures much of month for retail hurt revenue

The record results for iGaming came during a month in which retail operations at casinos and video gaming terminals (VGT) went dark.

Operations ceased on December 12th and remained closed through the end of the month due to statewide COVID-19 restrictions.

Even before that, the number of retail slot machines in operation on Dec. 11, 2020 – the day before a forced closure – was only 16,957 compared to 24,116 at the casinos on Dec. 30, 2019, according to the PGCB.

Some key figures from the December 2020 revenue report:

  • Online casino revenue was up a staggering 730.2% year over year.
  • Land-based casino slots were down 77.5% YoY.
  • Internet table games revenue was up 776.9% YoY.
  • Retail table games were down 78.2% YoY (from $78.1 million in Dec. 2019 down to $17.1 million last month).

With the closures, the combined total revenue in December from all forms of gaming and fantasy contests was more than $168.7 million, representing a decrease of 42.2% compared to revenue generated in December 2019.

Online wagering boomed, set new records

Recent growth in online gaming streams helped offset what would have been a much larger drop in YoY revenue.

Combined revenue for online casinos, poker, and online sports betting was $104.5 million, or 61.9% of the total PA gaming revenue for December.

Online poker was up slightly at $2.7 million, compared to $2.4 million in November. There is still just one operator, PokerStars PA, via Mount Airy Resort.

VGTs hurt by forced closures

Truckstop VGT terminals were down 8.67% to $802,918. Like casinos, they were ordered closed much of December.

A year ago, in December 2019, VGTs brought in $879,153.

Sports wagering boomed with the highest monthly handle

PA sportsbooks had their best month ever in December. The month’s total sports wagering handle was nearly $548.6 million or 11.5% above the November total of $491.9 million.

December was the highest monthly handle ever, eclipsing the previous record $525.8 million wagered in October.

The taxable revenue figure for December 2020 was just above $34 million, or 8.8% below the November taxable revenue of more than $37.3 million, which remains the highest for any month to date.

With two years of operating history for sports betting in PA, the Keystone State is the No. 3 jurisdiction for sports handle behind Nevada and New Jersey.

Daily fantasy contests were off 12.34%, with revenue of just more than $3 million.

December PA online casino breakdown by operator

A complete breakdown of December revenue, including slots and table games by operator (online gaming license holder), can be found here:

Casino OperatorTotal RevenueSlots RevenueTable Games Revenue
Rivers Philly (SugarHouse & BetRivers)$19.3 million$15.9 million$3.4 million
Penn National (DraftKings Casino)$13.7 million$6.0 million$7.7 million
Valley Forge (FanDuel)$11.2 million$5.1 million$6.1 million
Mt. Airy (PokerStars & Fox Bet)$7.0 million$2.8 million$1.4 million
Penn National (BetMGM)$5.7 million$3.9 million$1.8 million
Parx Casino$5.0 million$4.6 million$418,000
Penn National (Hollywood Casino)$4.0 million$3.9 million$128,000
Mohegan Sun Pocono (Unibet)$3.1 million$2.1 million$963,000
Harrah's Philly (Caesars)$1.3 million$978,000$351,000
Wind Creek Casino$591,000$441,000$150,000
Live! Casino Philadelphia (PlayLive!)$400,000$327,000$73,000
Presque Isle Downs (BetAmerica)$164,000$151,000$13,000
Totals:$68.9 million$46.2 million$22.6 million

Casino operators by the numbers

The clear front-runners in the online casino race in PA remain Penn National, Rivers Philadelphia, and Valley Forge.

The top five PA online casinos for December revenue include:

  • BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse (Rivers Philly): $19.3 million
  • DraftKings Casino (Penn National): $13.7 million
  • FanDuel Casino (Valley Forge): $11.2 million
  • PokerStars/Fox Bet (Mount Airy): $7.0 million
  • BetMGM (Penn National): $5.7 million

New additions, Penn on the rise

Penn National has made a large leap when it comes to online casino market share in PA. With the addition of BetMGM Casino on Dec. 4 (through its Hollywood Casino Morgantown license), Penn now boasts three iGaming options in PA: Hollywood online casino, DraftKings, and BetMGM.

BetMGM got off to a strong start, posting the fifth-highest iGaming revenue out of the gate.

Other recent additions – Wind Creek casino and Live! Casino Philadelphia’s PlayLive! – were near the bottom at $591K and $400K in revenue, respectively.

BetRivers/PSH had the largest slot revenue at $15.9 million. DraftKings won the online table category at $7.7 million, with FanDuel just behind at $6.1 million.

Penn National Strikes A Deal With Barstool Sports For Sportsbook, Casino Products

In a somewhat surprising move, Penn National Gaming bought a large stake of Barstool Sports, with plans to use the brand for online sportsbook and casino.

Penn National Gaming (Penn), based in Pennsylvania, recently closed a deal with digital sports media brand Barstool Sports.

According to the company’s press release, Penn agreed to the valuation of Barstool at $450 million. The casino operator will shell out $163 million for a 36% stake in Barstool.

In another three years, another $62 million will increase the stake to 50%. Once that transaction is complete, Penn National will be the controlling owner.

Penn to use Barstool branding with major growth potential

Penn has come far from its humble roots as a racetrack in South Central, PA. It plans to use the Barstool brand for the online sportsbook and online table games. The already established Hollywood Casino app will remain as the brand for online slots.

Jay Snowden, Penn National Gaming president and CEO, plans to use the Barstool Sports audience to ascend and capture a large share of the PA online gambling market. He says:

“With its leading digital content, well-known brand and deep roots in sports betting, Barstool Sports is the ideal partner for Penn National and will enable us to attract a new, younger demographic, which will nicely complement our existing customer database. In addition, with 66 million monthly unique visitors, we believe the significant reach of Barstool Sports and loyalty of its audience will lead to meaningful reductions in customer acquisition and promotional costs for our sports betting and online products, significantly enhancing profitability and driving value for our shareholders.”

Penn’s focus on national growth is nothing new. The company is not just a Keystone State operator, but has planted flags in 18 other US states.

Legalized sports betting states among them include:

  • Illinois 
  • Indiana 
  • Iowa
  • Michigan 
  • Mississippi 
  • Nevada 
  • Pennsylvania

Controversy surrounding Barstool

Barstool has certainly enjoyed a meteoric rise since its humble beginnings. According to Forbes, the company, founded by Dave Portnoy, started out by handing out free black-and-white gambling tip sheets at subway stations throughout Greater Boston. It has now grown into a media behemoth and is certainly enjoying even greater success with the Penn deal.

In 2016, the Chernin Group purchased Barstool for around $10-$15 million. Then the Chernin Group increased Barstool’s popularity despite the cancellation of its high-profile ESPN show.

On one hand, Barstool is known for a vulgar, misogynistic culture with a founder who has unapologetically degraded women, passing it off as humor. On the other hand, its audience is still growing thanks to its popular sports and comedy material.

Taking the good with the bad

Its content successfully caters to the young male demographic, which translates well into Penn’s growth plan. Penn’s stock soared after the partnership announcement was made.

However, Barstool is shunned and will likely always be shunned by certain organizations because of its reputation. For example, Barstool was escorted out of NFL Opening Night and was unwelcome during the Super Bowl.

But that’s not to say the deal won’t turn out favorably for Penn in terms of new customer acquisition.

It could also be good for Kambi, according to Legal Sports Report. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Kambi will be the technology platform provider for Penn’s online sportsbook.

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Pennsylvania Cashing In On Economic And Social Contributions Of Casinos

Casinos get a bad wrap as blights on communities, but PA casinos create jobs, outreach, and tax revenue for local communities.

Winners aren’t just limited to inside the confines of a casino.

Pennsylvania is experiencing a jackpot of jobs and an economic windfall as a result of the casino gaming industry.

On May 29, at a Get to Know Gaming event, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released their latest report, Casinos & Communities – Pennsylvania. It provided an in-depth look at the gaming industry’s economic and social contributions to communities across the state.

Highlights of the report included:

  • 33,171 jobs supported
  • $1.8 billion in wages generated
  • $2.5 billion generated in taxes

In 2004, Pennsylvania legislators passed the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, legalizing casinos and racinos. Today, there are 12 commercial casinos and racinos across the Commonwealth, which have rocketed Pennsylvania to the second-highest commercial gaming revenue in the United States, behind only Nevada.

“Over the last 15 years, gaming companies across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have served as an anchor for state and local economies, generating billions of dollars in tax revenue and operating as good stewards and community partners in the places casinos call home,” said Bill Miller, president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association.

Casinos as a beacon of hope

The growth of the gaming industry helped fill the void left by the downturn of the mining and manufacturing industries.

Ravaged by the high unemployment, crime and poverty for decades, the 2007 opening of Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s Philadelphia provided a beacon of hope. In May 2015, Harrah’s reported:

  • 1,400 jobs created
  • $1.6 million in charitable contributions
  • $1.4 billion in taxes
  • A $100 million economic impact in the city of Chester

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland explained that when the shipbuilding, steel and automobile industries left the city, jobs were limited and businesses were not coming.

“Harrah’s was the first real economic development that we had in this city for quite some time – for decades. They took a bet on the city. Folks now feel good about going to work in the morning. The casino has provided them with the opportunity to better take care of their families. And not just jobs, because jobs can come and go, but they provide them with career opportunities.”

Boosting the economy and nightlife

Twenty-five miles south of Chester, King of Prussia is in many ways, a world apart. It is home to the largest concentration of commercial office, industrial and flex buildings in the Philadelphia suburbs.

However, the area needed a boost from the 2008 recession. Boyd Gaming’s Valley Forge Casino was a “big, big part of that transition from a bad economy to a good economy,” said Eric Goldstein, executive director of King of Prussia’s Business Improvement District.

The casino created job opportunities and attracted visitors while keeping entertainment dollars in the community with their nightlife offerings such as musical acts, stand-up comedy, dueling pianos and Valley Beach, a pool bar with entertainment every Friday and Saturday night during the summer months.

“In the past four years, we’ve added almost 40 new restaurants at King of Prussia, which is crazy. You must have a lot of people to support that level of new business. The casino is obviously helping with that,” Goldstein added.

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Casinos as community partners

The impact of Pennsylvania casinos is not limited to their utility as economic engines. They boost local government budgets, support many community causes and are actively involved in the areas they call home.

In April, SugarHouse hosted a veteran-focused job fair to recruit over 100 candidates. In early 2019, SugarHouse was recognized for the seventh time as a “Top Workplace” by the Philadelphia Inquirer and also earned multiple “Best Places to Work” honors from the Philadelphia Business Journal. The Philadelphia-based casino is known for offering employees exceptional benefits, immediate 401 (k) vesting, and tuition reimbursement for continuing education.

Parx poured $90 million into over 800 organizations. Their representatives sit on the boards of addiction facilities and homeless shelters in the Bensalem area.

When the Greater Washington County Food Bank needed a new location, local grant funding from casino revenue “made it possible,” said Executive Director Connie Burd.

The new building with its 800-square-foot cooler and 400-square-foot freezer has enabled the food bank to “get out a lot more fresh produce to people” than before the grant. Employees from The Meadows regularly volunteer their time giving out food to low-income families and seniors.

Winning in western Pennsylvania

The western side of Pennsylvania is winning, too. Communities in and around Pittsburgh have benefitted from an economic upturn from Rivers Casino and the Meadows Racetrack & Casino.

Before Penn National Gaming’s Meadows Racetrack & Casino opened in Washington County in 2009, lifelong resident Larry Laggi recalled a stagnant economy with the area “losing jobs, losing people and losing families.”

Laggi equated the economic impact and excitement generated by the casino with the boon days of the local coal mining and steel industries.

“Every community, large and small, has prospered and benefited from gaming being in Washington County.”

Over the past 11 years, gaming has generated almost half-a-billion dollars for Washington County. That money funded job creation, infrastructure and workforce development projects, according to Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

“Those monies go right back into our economy. They go right back into new projects, encouraging more and more population growth, business investment and things of that nature in our community.”

The Lowdown On PA’s First Sportsbook: The Sportsbook At Hollywood Casino

The first-ever Pennsylvania sportsbook will officially open its doors at Hollywood Casino at Penn National on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Hollywood Casino, at Penn National Race Course, announced a test launch Thursday for its new sportsbook, a first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

Starting at 2 p.m. Friday, the book will have another day of testing. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) will oversee the new operations during the testing phase, expected to last only one day. The sportsbook at Hollywood Casino anticipates operating regular business hours and a full launch effective Saturday, Nov. 17.

It will open at 11 a.m. on weekdays and an hour earlier on weekends. It will close at midnight daily.

The sportsbook will be in the simulcast theater next to the Skybox Sports Bar on the second floor of the casino. The area was recently renovated in anticipation of legalized sports betting, which included the addition of dozens of televisions.

William Hill to operate Hollywood sportsbook

William Hill operates the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Penn National is the parent company of Hollywood Casino.

The two also partnered for West Virginia sports betting. It opened days before the start of this year’s football season. William Hill also operates sportsbooks in Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey, as well as the United Kingdom.

In a press release, Penn National CEO Timothy Wilmott said:

“Penn National is excited to be the first casino to offer sports wagering in Pennsylvania. The enthusiasm around sports betting has been growing since the federal ban was repealed in May, and we look forward to providing our patrons with another great amenity to enjoy at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.”

In the same release, Hollywood Casino General Manager Dan Ihm stated:

“We are extremely appreciative for the tireless effort and support of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. They moved heaven and earth to get us to this point and we couldn’t be more excited to be Pennsylvania’s first sportsbook.”

More PA sportsbooks on the way

The sportsbook at Hollywood Casino is one of many expected to open in Pennsylvania in the coming months. Five other casinos in the state are in the licensing process. Three think they will open retail sportsbooks by year’s end. These are:

Pennsylvania will be the seventh state to launch sports betting in the United States. It is the fifth to do so since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

The states that already have licensed sports betting are:

  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • West Virginia

William Hill operates in all those states, except New Mexico, which only offers betting at one tribal casino.

While Penn Launches Sports Betting In PA, It Expands Into Michigan

Penn National is adding another casino and another state to its portfolio. The company is acquiring some of the rights to Greektown Casino in Detroit, MI.

Pennsylvania gaming is heading west.

Well, not that far west. And not the entirety of PA gaming either.

But at least one PA-based gaming company is pushing into the Great Lake State.

Penn National has officially inked a deal to purchase Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit from Jack Entertainment.

The casino property itself will be sold to VICI Properties.

The full cost?

A whole lot.

The payout?

Potentially massive.

$1 billion deal for Penn National

Penn National currently owns both the Hollywood Casino, at Penn National Race Course, and the Meadows. Both properties are PA-based.

What’s pushing Penn National to make a run at Michigan?

Money, of course. And opportunity.

At least that’s how Penn National’s Chief Operating Officer Timothy Wilmott, framed it:

“Detroit is undergoing an exciting renaissance as a result of billions of dollars of new investments in the city’s residential, commercial, entertainment and cultural center, all of which are driving new residents, businesses, tourists and employment to the downtown area.”

“Greektown is the only casino in the heart of downtown, and we look forward to welcoming patrons from the many nearby attractions, such as Comerica Park, Ford Field, Little Caesars Arena, the city’s theater district, GM’s Renaissance Center and the Cobo Conference Center. We also look forward to working with JACK Entertainment and VICI to ensure a seamless transition for all of our constituents including customers, employees, vendors, local government and Michigan regulators.”

But it’s not just the existing enterprise and some citywide upgrades that have Penn National so happy to find themselves in their new home.

Sports betting FTW?

If you weren’t paying attention following the recent elections, you might have missed something important.

Specifically, Rep. Brandt Iden, the state’s champion for online gaming legislation, managed to squeak out a victory over his gambling-critical opponent.

This, after the Michigan House of Representatives passed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act earlier this year. The bill currently sits in the Senate, awaiting further updates to language that would include sports betting.

While roadblocks remain, sports betting isn’t as far-fetched as it once was in Michigan. That makes Penn National’s purchase a potentially shrewd one.

But that’s no surprise considering their operating procedure to this point.

They were first to market in West Virginia. They are already operational in Mississippi. Now they are going to be first to market for PA sports betting, too.

The full cost of play

Really, why else shell out $300 million for the rights to the casino, plus another $700 million from VICI for the property, to purchase a casino in a formerly depressed city?

As for other specifics of the Greektown deal, Penn National will enter into a triple-net lease agreement with VICI for the Greektown facility.

The lease includes annual rent of approximately $55.6 million and an initial term of 15 years, along with four 5-year renewal options.

The rent coverage ratio in the first year after closing is expected to be 1.8x.

Penn National will finance the deal with a combination of cash on hand and debt.

Penn National’s big push

With 100,000 square feet of casino space, 2,700 gaming machines, and 60 table games, a poker room, three restaurants, seven fast casual food outlets, four bars and a coffee shop, it’s easy to see what Penn National saw in Greektown.

It probably also won’t surprise you to hear that Detroit’s not the only city seeing some of that PA push.

Penn National is currently wrapping up two other acquisitions, keeping them at the forefront of gaming news.

Just last month, Penn National put the finishing touches on a deal to acquire Bucks County-based Pinnacle Entertainment for a whopping $2.8 billion.

This comes on the heels of the casino conglomerate’s acquisition of Margaritaville Resort Casino in June.

With the Greektown deal now in place, Penn National has staked their claim as one of the preeminent gaming companies, not just in PA, but the US.

And while it will be a long time before we can say anything definitive about the decision to go all-in on Detroit, it seems stockholders are already feeling good about the deal.

Photo by anderm / Shutterstock.com

Put A York In It: Hollywood Casino Reaches Mini-Casino Mall Deal

After nine months of searching and debating, Penn National found a mini-casino location. It announced plans for the $120 million Hollywood Casino York.

One of the five upcoming Pennsylvania-based mini-casinos finally found a home – the York Galleria Mall.

York Galleria provides space, parking, and infrastructure

Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced last week that they had officially filed a $120 million application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) for the location in Springettsbury Township.

The Hollywood Casino York will house 500 slot machines and 20 table games, with room for expansion.

“We explored numerous other potential opportunities within York County, but the mall’s convenient location, existing infrastructure, and ample parking, as well as the support of Springettsbury Township officials and the local business community, helped cement our decision,” Timothy Wilmott, Penn National’s CEO, said in a statement announcing the gaming conglomerate’s decision.

Two weeks ago, Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers told reporters that the Bucks County-based company was finalizing an option to lease an empty Sears space.

Penn National asked for extension on project

Mini-casinos, also known as Category 4 casinos, can house 300 to 750 slot machines and up to 40 table games. They were authorized as part of a gambling expansion bill signed into law last year by Gov. Tom Wolf. The law allows up to 10 mini-casinos. However, auctions for satellite casino licenses only resulted in five bids. The other five are still in limbo regarding their future.

Penn National actually won the very first Category 4 license in January of 2018. It then took months of research and back-and-forth squabbling with various members of Springettsbury Township to strike a deal.

Assuming all goes according to plan, it’s expected that the future Hollywood Casino York will open within 12 to 18 months with 500 slot machines and 20 table games immediately up and running.

Took eight months to settle on a mini-casino location

Springettsbury Township will receive two percent of the gross tax revenue from the new casino’s slot machines and one percent from table games. Penn National says that of the $120 million they’re investing, $52.6 million will go toward licensing fees for slots and table games. That bid was the largest of the five. The base cost of a license is $7.5 million.

Revenue from York Galleria will be distributed at the state, county and local levels.

As late as July of this year, Penn National was still considering a number of other locations within York County.

“We wanted additional time to conduct further analysis on the sites and expect to make a final decision in the near future,” Penn National spokesman Jeff Morris told The York Daily Record at the time. “Accessibility and enough space to accommodate both the facility and ample parking are two of the primary factors in determining the ideal location for our Category 4 facility.”

Initially, after Penn National expressed interest in the York Galleria location, supervisors said no to hosting a casino on the site. Municipalities could opt out as part of the expansion bill. Many did.

Community members poured into public hearings in July in an effort to voice their displeasure. Opponents voiced concerns about an increase in crime, potential fluctuations in property values, and the casino’s proximity to schools and a playground.

York initially said no, then changed its mind

Econsult Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm hired by Penn National to assess the overall impact of the mini casino on the township, found that it was likely to have a positive impact fiscally. Even if the casino only earns the township a few hundred thousand in annual revenue, it should up tourism and offer increased business opportunities. However, other issues, such as improving traffic patterns and building bigger water and sewer lines, could require an additional investment. In spite of the initial disagreements, the fiscal allure of a mini casino was simply too much for Springettsbury Township to ignore.

Springettsbury isn’t without its own allure, of course. The township provides plenty of opportunity for the casino as well. There are a number of shopping centers, a Target and the York Galleria. Additionally, it is in close proximity to Route 30 and Interstate 83.

Details on the Hollywood Casino York project

The expectation from Springettsbury Township supervisors is that the Hollywood Casino York will revitalize the mall and bring customers back to other shops.

“The development of this mini casino will be a catalyst for further investment and economic growth at the York Galleria Mall,” County Supervisor Charles Wurster said in a statement. “The vast majority of residents that I have received feedback from, overwhelmingly support this additional benefit in the community for a different form of entertainment and for the economic opportunities to the area that this investment will provide.”

Beyond the betting parlor, the Hollywood Casino York will feature a sports bar, a small entertainment lounge and a pair of fast-casual eateries. More from Wilmott:

“Penn National Gaming has been proud to call Pennsylvania home for over 45 years. We look forward to adding hundreds of new team members in York County and becoming another economic engine for Springettsbury and the greater York business community.”

Penn National expects their new location to create 200 permanent jobs, along with 75 short-term construction jobs.

Photo by Wayne0216 / Shutterstock.com

With PA Online Gaming Licenses Opening Up, Industry Could Be An International Affair

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is putting seven unclaimed online gambling licenses up for sale to qualified gaming entities outside the PA casinos.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) now has a plan for dealing with the seven online gambling licenses that have gone unclaimed by PA casinos.

During a meeting this week, the PGCB decided to put the remaining licenses up for sale to qualified gaming entities. It will award the licenses to these qualified gaming entities through a random draw involving all that apply. A date for the draw has yet to be determined.

Essentially, this decision opens up the PA online gambling market to companies outside the PA casino industry for the first time.

Currently, the seven available interactive gaming licenses include:

  • 3 for online poker
  • 2 for online slots
  • 2 for online table games

Leaving licenses on the table

Six of the licenses available represent the three each The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin passed on.

Additionally, the online poker license is the one Presque Isle Downs & Casino passed on when it applied for online slots and online table games licenses alone.

Meanwhile, it seems interested entities have Churchill Downs Incorporated to thank for four of the licenses still being available.

The Louisville-based racing, gaming, and online entertainment company recently finalized a deal to purchase Presque Isle Downs & Casino. It will assume management of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin from owner Eldorado Resorts as well.

Meanwhile, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino owner Penn National Gaming looks to be leaving its interactive gaming licenses on the table to focus online gambling plans it has its other PA casino, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

Qualified gaming entities

To be considered a qualified gaming entity, the Board has put together regulations stating an applicant must:

  • Have a license in good standing in another gaming jurisdiction
  • Operate in a jurisdiction where licensing standards are comprehensive, thorough, and similar to those in PA
  • Have the business experience and expertise to operate in the online gambling sphere

There’s no telling who will apply. However, the regulations make it clear any casino company not in the PA market will have now the opportunity to get in.

Thumbs up for Hollywood and SugarHouse

Meanwhile, after approving online gambling licenses for Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, Parx Casino, and Mount Airy Casino Resort at its last meeting, the Board said yes to two more properties.

PGCB approved online gambling operations at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and SugarHouse Casino.

SugarHouse Casino parent Rush Street Gaming and its Rush Street Interactive subsidiary already run a New Jersey online casino. It just added sports betting services to the platform, but there is no online poker.

Rush Street Interactive President Richard Schwartz told the Board its online casino platform is ready to launch in PA. However, its plan for what to do with its online poker license remains unclear.

Hollywood Casino executives told the board it has set up its own interactive division to handle online gambling operations. It will launch online casino and poker in 2018 or early 2019 with primary technology partner IGT.