West Virginia Passed Online Gambling; Should Pennsylvania Worry?

Pennsylvania casinos, namely the ones near Pittsburgh, will soon have to contend with competition for online casino players from neighboring West Virginia.

Pennsylvania’s neighbor will soon join the Keystone State in the world of online casino gaming.

Last Wednesday, West Virginia legalized online casino gambling when House Bill 2934 became law. Gov. Jim Justice failed to act on the bill, just as he did with West Virginia’s sports betting last year. Even though he did not act, the bill become law after 15 days of inaction per WV law.

“There are a lot of different things out there that I guess people do (in online casino gaming),” West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers said in an article on MetroNews. “I think there are even some video lottery games like we have in the casinos to a smaller degree that you could even play.”

WV online gaming takes cues from other states

West Virginia is now the fifth state to legalize at least some form of online poker and online casino gambling, joining Pennsylvania, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. PA passed its online gaming law in October 2017.

The West Virginia law is similar to those passed by other states. Anyone 21 and older, and who is within West Virginia’s state lines will be able to play online casino games with a computer or mobile device. Each of the state’s five casinos are eligible to purchase a permit to host online gaming:

  • Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
  • Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
  • The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
  • Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel

Currently, the most popular online casino games are poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and slots.

WV online casinos shouldn’t greatly affect PA’s gaming

While the Mountaineer Casino in New Cumberland and Wheeling Island are only about an hour away from the Pittsburgh area, it’s unlikely West Virginia’s new law will steal substantial business from its neighbor. That is good news for the city’s two casinos, Rivers and The Meadows.

First of all, Pennsylvania’s online casinos are expected to launch much earlier than West Virginia’s. Most estimates expect PA’s online gaming to arrive in June or July. West Virginia will likely be more than a year behind that.

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PA online gaming will feature numerous options

Furthermore, Pennsylvania is on track to provide online gamblers with a wealth of options. The PA Gaming and Control Board has already provided conditional approval for 10 of the state’s 13 casinos to offer online poker, slots, and table games.

Presque Isle Downs, Mohegan Sun Pocono, and the upcoming Stadium Casino project will just offer online table games and slots.

Furthermore, qualified gaming entities (QGE) from outside of Pennsylvania were allowed to apply for the remaining online gaming licenses. Both MGM Resorts and Golden Nugget Atlantic City have filed paperwork. Each group is expected to offer some form of online gaming in Pennsylvania upon launch, pending PGCB approval.

West Virginia’s online gaming is more likely to target other states

Pennsylvania’s early action on online gaming will likely keep most of its online players within the confines of the Keystone State.

However, the new law in West Virginia is aimed beyond its borders. The online gaming legislation is hoping to attract gamblers from neighboring states such as Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland. Those states have not yet legalized online gaming.

And that’s the biggest reason the bill drew bipartisan support in the WV state legislature.

“iGaming has the potential to bring millions of dollars in revenue to our state,” West Virginia legislator Jason Barrett said in the PlayWV article.

Put simply; the new online gaming bill is a boon for West Virginia. But not a major threat to its neighbor in Pennsylvania.

A Tale Of Two Cities: Philly And Pittsburgh Sports Betting Numbers

While Rivers Sportsbook in Pittsburgh rakes in bets, the Philadelphia sportsbooks are struggling for market share and revenue.

The Super Bowl has long been the most-watched and most-wagered-on sporting event in America.

Even in February, albeit a short month, the biggest NFL game of the year would theoretically provide a boost to legalized sports betting in Pennsylvania.

Last month, though, not even the Big Game could drive PA sports betting forward.

According to financials released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week, the state’s six sportsbooks in February took in $31,500,742 in wagers. That total was down just $511,096.82 from the previous month.

Revenue, however, fell drastically. The number was down more than 25 percent month-over-month to $1,946,816.50.

Super Bowl can’t boost PA sports betting

The New England Patriots hoisting the Lombardi Trophy did not sit well with sportsbooks in any state.

New Jersey, for example, lost a combined $4.5 million on Super Bowl wagers.

FanDuel Sportsbook lost approximately $1 million, according to estimates. DraftKings Sportsbook, meanwhile, paid out about $11 million.

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PA sports betting revenue takes a dive

The Keystone State featured a half dozen sportsbooks for the second straight month. Except February was the first month where all books were operational for the entire period.

Rather than taking a step forward, however, some regressing occurred in February.

Granted, as noted, February is a shorter month. And overall handle last month dipped by just 1.6 percent.

Yet total revenue fell below $2 million for the first time since November, the first month of PA sports betting that only had one sportsbook operational. And that sportsbook was only open for two weeks, over Thanksgiving no less.

Rivers Sportsbook topped the list of revenue-earners in February with $627,520.99, just ahead of SugarHouse Sportsbook with $522,308.00.

On the flip side, Pennsylvania’s trailblazing property, Hollywood Sportsbook, reported a mere $13,914.20. That total represents a $270,710 decrease from January. Another casino that struggled in February was Parx Sportsbook, which had its revenue fall by a whopping 68 percent to $369,995.89.

PropertyHandleGross RevenueTax
Total$31,500,741.94$1,946,816.50$700,853.95
Hollywood Sportsbook$3,742,819.85$13,914.20$5,009.11
SugarHouse Sportsbook$7,091,933.11$522,308.00$188,030.88
Rivers Sportsbook$8,147,558.96$627,520.99$225,907.56
Parx Sportsbook$6,965,511.90$369,995.89$133,198.52
South Philadelphia Turf Club$2,601,650.62$275,876.90$99,315.69
Harrah's Sportsbook$2,951,267.50$137,200.52$49,392.19

Quick takeaways from February

The PA sports betting industry is only in its fifth month of operations. Plus, it still does not feature online wagering.

Regardless, the first few reports are starting to paint a picture.

Kambi controls market

Of the six properties in Pennsylvania, four sportsbooks have leveraged Kambi Group. To date, those facilities have generated 77 percent of the state’s overall handle and 80.9 percent of revenue.

In February alone, Kambi’s four sportsbooks (Rivers, SugarHouse, Parx, and South Philadelphia Turf Club) reported a combined $1,795,701.7892.2 percent of the month’s revenue.

These properties have a wide reach in the state, with three located in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh. Additionally, they utilize self-service kiosks for easier access. Even better, the properties all offer betslip builder websites that allow customers to create betting tickets before heading to the retail sportsbook to save time at the counter.

Of course, the PA sports betting industry expanded in March with the introduction of FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino Resort as well as Valley Forge Turf Club. The latter, though, also leverages Kambi.

Head to head: Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love has become the hub for PA sports betting, with four sportsbooks operational in February. Yet Pittsburgh, a one-horse town, has taken hold of the state share.

Since December, Rivers has accepted nearly $23.3 million in handle. That accounts for more than 28 percent of the state’s overall handle numbers. Philly sportsbooks, meanwhile, averaged just over $10.7 million.

In terms of revenue, Philadelphia properties have averaged just over $854,000, compared with Rivers’ total of $2.55 million.

February followed that trend as well:

  • Rivers: $8.15 million handle, $627,520.99 revenue
  • Philadelphia average: $4.9 million handle, $326,345.33 revenue

Sportsbook Provider Kambi Taking Its Talents To Philadelphia

Kambi has dominated the European betting markets for years. Now it is headed stateside, with a US office in Philadelphia, PA.

Kambi Group has a new home. And it’s right in the heart of sports betting country.

The Stockholm-listed sportsbook provider has set its sights on opening a Philadelphia office sometime in the second quarter of 2019. The provider for four of six PA sports betting operations and three of the top four online sports betting services in nearby New Jersey, Kambi will have its first US-based office in the near future.

“The opening of a US office has long been part of our plans and we have taken the time to carefully weigh up a number of different options to ensure we settled on the right location,” Kambi Chief Commercial Officer Max Meltzer said in a statement.

“In Philadelphia we have found a city that ticks all the boxes — great proximity to customers, a people passionate about sports and high performing local universities. The team we are building will tap into that local talent and ensure we can provide an even greater level of service to our customers.”

Philly checks all the boxes

As noted, Kambi certainly has roots laid in the Northeast, specifically in two states that could challenge Nevada as sports betting king.

At the heart of it all: the Philadelphia sports betting market.

According to Kambi, the group selected Philly for four key reasons:

  • The proximity to current and prospective customers
  • The East Coast contains most states where regulated sports betting currently exists
  • The city’s passion for sports
  • Local talent, specifically in terms of educational institutions in the area. “We believe we can benefit from those graduating reasonably locally,” Kambi said.

Kambi said it is in the process of hiring “a number of roles,” including in customer supporttechnical support and trading/odds compiling.

Initially, the group said, the office will begin with approximately 30 employees before steadily growing depending on business requirements.

Kambi sets up shop amid booming business

Kambi has taken the sports betting world by storm since the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA in 2018.

The group, for example, reported Q4 revenue growth of 14 percent. It entered the NJ sports betting landscape at the ground floor, powering DraftKings Sportsbook since its launch in August 2018.

During that time, DraftKings has totaled $37.3 million in revenue, accounting for nearly 54 percent of overall sports betting revenue by online sports betting products. Kambi also powers two other popular online sportsbooks in New Jersey: SugarHouse NJ and 888 Sport.

In December, Kambi brought its business to Pennsylvania as SugarHouse Sportsbook and Rivers Sportsbook opened in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, respectively. Another two Kambi-powered operations opened in January as Parx Sportsbook and South Philadelphia Turf Club entered the market.

These properties have combined for $37.7 million in accepted wagers, which is about 76 percent of the overall handle. They also produced $3.9 million in revenue, which is about 81.2 percent of overall revenue since the industry launched in November.

With growing business in New Jersey and with Pennsylvania continuing to expand both with retail sportsbooks and PA online gambling sites, Kambi now sits in the heart of it all.

Double The Sportsbooks, Double The Handle For PA In January

Three new PA sportsbooks opened in January, helping the PA sports betting industry almost double its monthly handle numbers to more than $30 million.

Legal sports betting really took off in Pennsylvania last month.

Three new sportsbooks opened up. Plus, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Feb. 15, the fledgling industry’s monthly handle numbers almost doubled.

The numbers show the six PA sportsbooks operational in at least part of January took in $32,011,839 in wagers. This was close to double the $16,173,090 in bets the three PA sportsbooks open in December 2018 brought in.

PA’s three new sportsbooks

Plus, it is worth noting the three new sportsbooks that opened in January were not operational for the full month:

Despite the big jump in monthly handle, PA sports betting revenue was only up to $2,607,205 from $2,006,546 in December 2018. Additionally, PA sportsbooks generated $938,597 in taxes in January, compared to $722,356 in December.

PA sports betting numbers

Here is a complete look at the PA sports betting handle, revenue, and tax revenue numbers for each PA sportsbook in the month of January:

SportsbookHandleRevenueTax Revenue
SugarHouse Casino$10,795,121$103,523$37,268
Rivers Casino$9,543,112$853,316$307,194
Parx Casino$5,382,620$1,170,348$421,325
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course$4,817,151$284,624$102,465
Parx South Philadelphia Turf Club$858,130$91,835$33,061
Harrah's Philadelphia$615,704$103,569$37,285
Statewide Total$32,011,839$2,607,205$938,597

February numbers could be even greater, with the possibility of as much as $30 million bet at PA sportsbooks on the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.

Plus, the numbers are expected to grow even more come March with sportsbooks at Valley Forge Casino, Presque Isle Downs, and the Valley Forge Turf Club expected to be operational by then. The NCAA tournament won’t hurt either, as the three-weeks long March Madness has emerged as one of the country’s largest betting events.

PA’s top-earning sportsbooks

In the meantime, as the numbers above show, SugarHouse Sportsbook took the top of the PA sports betting industry, bringing in approximately $10.8 million in bets. Of course, the numbers come as no surprise considering SugarHouse is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city.

What is somewhat surprising is that SugarHouse was only able to generate $103,523 in revenue from that. Philadelphia sports fans are apparently proving to be sharp handicappers.

December 2018’s top sportsbook, Rivers, brought in $9.5 million in bets and generated $853,000 in revenue. However, The Sportsbook at Parx Casino was monthly revenue king. It generated $1,170,348 in revenue off of $5,382,620 in handle, even though Parx didn’t start taking bets until Jan. 10.

Finally, the state proved to be PA sports betting’s next biggest winner. PA’s six sportsbooks generated a total of $938,597 in tax revenue, which means the state earned more than every other sportsbook outside of Parx. Plus, it was a pretty close second.

Philadelphia And Pittsburgh Finally Get Their Sportsbook

SugarHouse Casino and Rivers Casino join Hollywood Casino in the Pennsylvania sports betting market, making it three PA sportsbooks.

The number of Pennsylvania sportsbooks tripled on Thursday. SugarHouse Casino and Rivers Casino join Hollywood Casino in the Pennsylvania sports betting market.

Rivers Casino was the first to announce the big news on their Twitter account, a full day before the official first bet.

SugarHouse, in contrast, waited until just before opening their doors before issuing its first statement on the highly anticipated development.

Considering both properties are owned by Rush Street Interactive, it’s not a surprise they both opened their betting windows on the same day. The news also marks the entry of a sportsbook in two of Pennsylvania’s most prominent cities: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

It’s important to note that Pennsylvania regulations require an initial two-day test period for all new sportsbooks. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB) will likely give the final approval on Saturday morning, provided everything goes smoothly.

SugarHouse Sportsbook

SugarHouse Casino adds a second state to its sports betting operations with its launch into the Philadelphia sports betting scene. The ceremonial first bet included six frequent customers stepping up to a window inside the temporary sportsbook at 2 p.m. Dec. 13.

Cheryl Duhon, general manager of Sugarhouse, shared in the excitement to the Inquirer.

“This city is very special and unique when it comes to sports and the fandom surrounding sports in this town. We’re honored to be the first in Philly to get this launched. Everyone has been chomping at the bit to get this going.”

Speaking of fandom, the Philadelphia Eagles are flying this weekend to the West Coast for their matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.

Even with the Eagles away, the sportsbook is likely to be the place-to-be for Sunday’s NFL game. However, look for things to be hopping for the first home game Dec. 23 against the Houston Texans.

Of course, SugarHouse is already operating in neighboring New Jersey. There are estimates that nearly 5 percent of wagers on PlaySugarHouse in New Jersey come from Pennsylvanians crossing the state border to place their bets. Now, Philadelphia sports bettors can stay closer to home.

Rivers Casino Sportsbook

On the other side of the state, in Pittsburgh Steelers‘ territory, Rivers Casino also accepted its first wagers at 2 p.m. to officially kick off Pittsburgh sports betting. Like SugarHouse, the first bets also came by way of a few local customers. Although, state legislators and Rivers officials took part in an official ribbon cutting.

Rivers gets to celebrate its first weekend in operation with their team playing at home. The Steelers face a fierce battle against the New England Patriots. Both teams will be playing to secure or improve their playoff position.

Bill Keena, general manager of Rivers Casino, provided a sneak peek to Trib Live of what the sportsbook will look like on game day.

“In this town, it’s going to be different because of the fact that when the Steelers win, you can just imagine the excitement that happens here on the gaming floor. When they score a touchdown, everybody yells and cheers. Take that 10 times in this sportsbook here.”

What about mobile sports betting?

Currently, regulators are focused on launching retail operations before adding online sports betting to the mix. The $10 million sports betting license fee includes an online sports betting license as well.

SugarHouse knows full well the power of mobile sports betting, where 68 percent of the New Jersey sports betting revenue in November came from online wagers.

No doubt, SugarHouse is ready to launch its online app as soon as it gets the approval to do so. Duhon would like to see online sports betting get off the ground sometime in the first quarter of the new year.

“The regulators want to let the dust clear with the land-based piece before starting online sports betting sometime next year,” said Duhon.

That means getting the additional four casinos still in line to launch their sportsbooks. Those casinos are:

Harrah’s Philadelphia and Parx Casino already received approval by the PGCB. On the other hand, Valley Forge and Presque Isle Downs are still waiting for their turn in front of the PGCB.

Whether land-based or online, Pennsylvania sports betting is gearing up for a very busy 2019.

Rivers Abandons Its Interactive License, But Not Its Online Gambling Plans

Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino rescinded its interactive gaming application in PA, but still has a couple different avenues to launch online gambling.

Not so fast, Pittsburgh-based interactive gamers and gamblers.

Rivers Casino, which had recently applied for and all but acquired three interactive gaming licenses, recently rescinded those applications.

The question is why?

And where will those Pittsburgh-based interactive gamers go now for peer-to-peer poker and simulated slot machines? And what happens to the three interactive gaming licenses Rivers turned their collective nose up at?

Why did Rivers rescind?

Rivers Casino actually shares ownership with SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. Because of that, they may have ultimately decided that doubling their pleasure didn’t really equate to doubling their fun.

Rush Street Entertainment, the owner of both Rivers and SugarHouse, has already made headway in the interactive gaming market with their Philly-based operation. And considering that SugarHouse’s application for interactive gaming came through before Rivers’, it afforded Rush Street the chance to reassess their options.

Among those options? Foregoing the $10 million price tag that comes along with those three online gaming licenses.

The assumption is that Rush Street believes they’ll be able to operate both Rivers and SugarHouse online under the PlaySugarHouse name. That would certainly save themselves some cash in the process. It’s possible for Rivers Casino to piggyback off PlaySugarHouse’s online presence, acting as a skin. In other words, instead of launching a completely different brand, it will utilize the same licenses.

Plus, SugarHouse appears to be making headway with their online gaming and online sports book in New Jersey, meaning that brand is already likely associated with online gaming in the minds of most Pennsylvania gambling patrons.

Where to game online instead.

The short answer?

SugarHouse.

Simply put, PlaySugarHouse will be home to the same games that Rivers Casino would (or will) offer.

Between the real-money casino it launched in 2016 and the New Jersey sports book it opened just this year, PlaySugarHouse offers plenty of opportunities to win.

But don’t take that to mean that Rivers is foregoing the online gaming business entirely.

“Rivers Casino Pittsburgh intends to provide iGaming to Western Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth; however, we’re taking additional time to explore the various options for doing so,” a Rivers spokesperson told PlayPennsylvania. “Rivers is actively pursuing a sports wagering certificate to offer both land-based and mobile sports betting.”

While Rivers and SugarHouse are capable of combining their mobile sportsbooks into a single entity, if Rivers wants to take bets on the casino floor, they’ll be looking at a license that costs—you guessed it—$10 million.

Rivers may never be as well-known as its sister site, but as the only casino in Pittsburgh (and a short walk from the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers), it’s sure to remain as lucrative as its always been.

What happens to the rescinded licenses?

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced that Rivers would forfeit its reserved interactive gaming licenses as a consequence of pulling its applicatoin.

Following that decision, a total of 10 licenses are now available for Qualified Gaming Entities (QGE) that want to offer interactive gaming in Pennsylvania.

These groups do not have to be PA casinos, but they do need to get approval from PGCB to submit an application for a license.

With Rush Street banking solely on PlaySugarHouse, that leaves

  • Four peer-to-peer gaming licenses,
  • Three online slot licenses and
  • Three online table game licenses.

PGCB is, of course, looking to offload those licenses as quickly as possible and get money flowing, both into their coffers, and the state’s pockets via bets.

“Qualified Gaming Entities seeking these available certificates can file a petition with the Board beginning Oct.15, 2018 and ending Oct. 31, 2018,” the PGCB announced last week.

So if you’re a QGE looking to strike at an interactive gaming license while the slots are hot, now’s the time.

Rush Street Teams Up With Kambi For Sports Betting

Rush Street Gaming, which owns two Pennsylvania casinos, is partnering with gambling software company Kambi to prepare to offer sports betting now that it is legal in the Keystone State.

Rush Street Interactive is ready for sports betting.

This past week they announced via press release they have launched a partnership with global sportsbook supplier Kambi Group PLC. The move marks Rush Street’s first major play toward sports betting. The company owns two Pennsylvania casinos, SugarHouse and Rivers Casino.

In the release, Kambi Cheif Executive Kristian Nylen said Kami’s top-notch products are a good fit for the American gaming group.

“This agreement with Rush Street Interactive, one of the most respected gaming companies in the U.S., is recognition that Kambi not only has online premium sports betting services ready to appeal to American sports enthusiasts, but those services will help protect the integrity of sports.”

Rush Street Interactive President Richard Schwartz also noted that the company has full confidence that the partnership will produce an excellent product that preserves the integrity of each bet.

Kambi partnership may be a sign that PA tax isn’t a big issue

One of the key issues of sports betting in Pennsylvania is the proposed 36 percent tax on sportsbook revenue.

Greg Gemignani, an attorney with Dickinson Wright who specializes in gaming law, said in an interview that sportsbooks could face financial difficulties if state taxes are enough that they take a significant chunk of the operation’s win.

He pointed out that Nevada sportsbooks have, historically speaking, averaged a 4.5-percent margin. Should Kambi and Rush Street implement sports betting via SugarHouse and Rivers, a 36-percent tax revenue would drop that 4.5-percent win to 2.88 percent.

We don’t know yet whether or not PA sportsbooks clear 4.5 percent. However, the Rush Street-Kambi deal reveals that both parties understand the cost and the taxes involved with running a sportsbook in Pennsylvania. And even with the potentially low margins, they are moving ahead regardless.

Competition a foregone conclusion

What will be interesting as Pennsylvania’s regulators determine the path and scope of sports betting is the concept of competition.

New Jersey’s Supreme Court of the United States win was somewhat of a formality. Atlantic City casinos were prepping for sports betting long before a decision came in.

For example, Borgata announced this past November that they were planning to open an $8 million sportsbook.

Atlantic City will no doubt provide serious competition with Pennsylvania’s eastern casinos. One of those is Philadelphia’s SugarHouse. It’s worth nothing the drive from Philly to Atlantic City is about an hour on the weekend without traffic.

Will Philadelphia residents choose to head to Atlantic City for its glamour and sportsbooks? Or will they stay “local” and go to Philadelphia to place their bets?

What is certain is that Kambi is ready to implement their sportsbook operations in the United States.

The company published a response to the SCOTUS repeal of PASPA this past week, saying the following:

“Kambi believes it is well positioned to enter the US as and when local laws permit, and is excited by the prospect of US sports fans being able to enjoy the Kambi Sportsbook.   As previously communicated, Kambi has been proactive to ensure it is ready to launch in the US on day one of a legal market, and remains confident it will be able do so.”

Rivers Ended 2017 On A Slot Machine High Note

While it is technically the third-most financially successful casino in Pennsylvania, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh arguably had the best December of anyone.

Revenue-wise, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh is among the top-five revenue earners in Pennsylvania’s casino market.

Earlier this month Rivers also had the distinction of being the only casino among the big five to see revenue growth in overall slots in 2017 and in the month of December. That is, according to the latest numbers from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Rivers sees positive growth year-on-year, month-on-month

According to the PGCB’s numbers, Rivers Casino pulled in the third-most slots revenue in the month of December and for the year.

Parx Casino, the state’s top slots revenue property, saw a 0.79 percent rise in its slots revenue compared to Dec. 2016. However, its 2017 slots revenue dropped 0.42 percent.

Sands saw slight decreases month-on-month (-0.68%) and year-on-year (-0.81%).

Rivers, on the other hand, saw a 5.85 percent rise in month-on-month revenue. That is the third-highest growth rate among the state’s 12 casinos.

Year-on-year, the casino experienced a 1.77 percent revenue growth. What’s interesting about this increase is that it not only made Rivers the only top-five property to see positive numbers in Dec. 2017 and in 2017, but it was one of only two casinos pulling in $100 million in 2017 to see month-on-month and year-on-year growth. Mount Airy Casino was the other property.

All 12 PA casinos see Dec. growth, yearly decline

While Rivers was the golden boy of among the state’s big earners, smaller casinos like Lady Luck, Valley Forge, and Presque Isle boasted revenue increases of more than 5 percent, 8 percent, and 2 percent, respectively.

Along with healthy growth at Mount Airy and modest gains at SugarHouse and Hollywood Casino, the state’s casinos managed to see a 1 percent increase in revenue compared to Dec. 2016.

That growth was punctuated by the fact that fewer slots were in operation this past month than they were the year before.

“The average combined number of slot machines operating daily was 25,849 in December of 2017 compared to 26,074 in December of 2016,” the PGCB reported.

As for year-on-year growth, casinos saw an overall decline of 1 percent. The numbers PGCB provided seem to indicate that much of that decline was due to the fact that only eight of 12 casinos saw year-on-year revenue increases. Furthermore, only one of the top-eight revenue earners saw increases.

For the year, the state pulled in $1.18 billion in slots tax revenue. Here’s more from the PGCB about where that money goes:

“Tax revenue generated from slot machine gaming in 2017 was $1,188,689,755 with a significant portion of the revenue used for property tax reduction to all Pennsylvania homeowners, strengthening the Commonwealth’s horse racing industry, and funding economic development projects.”

What will 2018 hold for slots revenue?

Heading into 2018, the headlining development in slots will be the implementation of video gambling terminals (video gambling terminals) at truck stops across the state.

The Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill included a provision that allows for up to five VGT’s at qualifying truck stops. It also allows counties to opt out.

At the time of publishing, 10 of 12 counties hosting casinos had opted out.

Western PA Poker Rooms: Breaking Down Rivers Casino, Presque Isle And Meadows

Here’s a closer look of the three poker rooms scattered across western Pennsylvania, including the 30-table poker room at Rivers Casino.

Ten of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos possess poker rooms, but the size and offerings vary quite a bit.

In this column, we’ll take a look at the three poker rooms in the western part of the state — at Presque Isle, Rivers, and Meadows — and see what they have to offer.

Rivers Casino poker

Rivers Casino is the only Pennsylvania casino located in Pittsburgh (right next to Heinz Field), so it’s not surprising the property boasts one of the largest poker rooms in the state, with 30 tables. The Rivers poker room also has one of the better mixes of games and stakes, with both low- and high-limit games available.

Its tournament schedule is also one of the most robust in the state, with two to three daily tournaments. Rivers is a Poker Night in America-branded room and hosts a number of different tournament series throughout the year.

On the promotions front, Rivers has a bad-beat jackpot, as well as “hot seat” and “high hand” giveaways. Rivers also offers 24-hour food service, discounted hotel rates and call-ahead and online seating.

Stakes and games typically found at Rivers are:

  • $1/$3 no-limit hold’em
  • $1/$3/$6 no-limit hold’em
  • $5/$10 no-limit hold’em
  • $10/$20 no-limit hold’em
  • $4/$8 limit hold’em
  • $1/$3 pot-limit Omaha
  • $5/$5 pot-limit Omaha
  • $5/$10 limit Omaha 8
  • State-approved games are available upon request

Presque Isle Casino poker

Situated in Northern Pennsylvania — in Erie —  Presque Isle has a small seven-table poker room that mainly caters to low limit players.

One thing potential visitors should be aware of is, unlike other rooms, the Presque Isle poker room isn’t open 24 hours. The room opens at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on the weekends. There isn’t a specific closing time, as games run as long as people continue playing.

Presque Isle does offer weekend tournaments and Sit & Go’s (when they run), as well as high-hand promotions on select days and times.

Stakes and games typically found at Presque Isle Casino are:

  • $1/$3 no-limit hold’em
  • $2/$5 no-limit hold’em
  • $2/$4 limit hold’em
  • State-approved games are available upon request

Meadows Casino poker

Nestled in the southwestern corner of the state, in the town of Washington, Meadows Casino boasts a 14-table poker room. This makes it the only real alternative to Rivers Casino in western PA, although it’s still a 30-minute drive from Pittsburgh.

Meadows’ poker room hosts daily poker tournaments, high-hand jackpots, phone-in seating and tableside food delivery.

Meadows’ daily tournaments are some of the lowest buy-ins you’ll find in a casino, with reentry tournaments priced as low as $30, not to mention a $51 buy-in deepstack tournament on several different days.

Stakes and games typically found at Meadows Casino are:

  • $1/$3 no-limit hold’em
  • $1/$3/$6 no-limit hold’em
  • $2/$4 limit hold’em
  • $3/$6 limit hold’em
  • $5/$10 limit hold’em
  • $2/$5 pot-limit Omaha
  • State-approved games are available upon request

Rivers Casino Rolls Out Plans For $50 Million Hotel In Pittsburgh

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh is hoping to break ground on a connected hotel that would open some time next year.

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh is hoping to break ground on a connected hotel that would open some time next year.

The Rivers Casino hotel, at a glance

Rivers released some of its plans this week for a hotel that would come at a pricetag of $51.5 million. With land already purchased from the city, the casino appeared in front of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission to outline what it has in store with the hotel.

“The possibility of a hotel was first included in the casino’s 2006 Master Development Plan, and we’re excited to begin this next stage in our evolution,” said Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers Casino, in a press release.  “The new Rivers Casino Hotel fulfills the promise of a true destination casino.”

According to a Rivers presser, it “hopes to break ground in late spring of 2017 and anticipates opening in 2018,” pending approvals from the city.

More on the hotel expansion from Trib Live:

Pittsburgh City Council in December cleared the way for Rivers to proceed with the hotel by vacating property known as a paper street next to the casino. Rivers will pay the city $217,000 for the property, according to council’s legislation.

It seems clear the casino and the city have gotten past a bit of a tiff over the PA casino host tax that Rivers had challenged.

Details of the Rivers Casino hotel

Here’s a closer look at what we know about the casino so far:

  • It will feature seven stories and 221 guest rooms, many of which will have riverfront views.
  • The hotel will be built on vacant land between the casino and the Carnegie Science Center, connecting to the gaming facility on its east end.
  • Amenities will include a fitness center, a spa, a restaurant and a lobby bar.
  • The entire cost of the hotel is privately funded.

Here is some of the data Rivers provided on the impact once the hotel is built:

  • More than 1,500 jobs: 1,400 for construction and 128 permanent hotel jobs.
  • The state will see more than $10 million in tax revenue as a result of the addition of the hotel.

Hotel will help the casino

Last year was not a great one for Rivers on the casino front. Revenue from slot machines was down about $12 million year over year in 2016. Table game revenue was down about $2 million.

The addition of the hotel will almost certainly help the casino see an uptick in gaming win.

A good model to look at would be SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which quickly completed an opened an expansion in 2016. Even with a hotel in operation only for half a year, SugarHouse experienced a noticeable increase in gaming revenue.

Image credit: Strada