Mandated closures to protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic has seen gaming revenue in Pennsylvania fall 51.4 per cent to $153.4m (2019: $316.2m) according to figures released by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

With land-based closures taking effect, igaming participation shot up 24.5 per cent compared to a month earlier. Online casino games and poker generated a record $24.3m in revenue, surpassing the record $19.5m in revenue set in February. March’s gains yielded $5.9m in state taxes.

Poker tallied $3.1m in revenue, all by Mount Airy/PokerStars, with Rivers Casino Philadelphia leading the overall market with $6.8m in revenue, up from $4.8m.

“Pennsylvania’s online product has been slow to develop, but the revenue the industry is generating now is vital to the gaming industry and the state budget,” explained Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com

“Ideally, Pennsylvania’s online casino industry would’ve had the opportunity to mature more quickly. But it is definitely better than if it didn’t exist at all, as is the case in most states.”

With the sports world largely shut down during mid-March, Pennsylvania’s handle slumped to just $131.3 m for the month, down 60.2 per cent from $329.8m. $118.3m, or 90.1 per cent. $118.3m, or 90.1 per cent, of March’s handle came from online betting.

“Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is navigating waters that are unprecedented anywhere,” said Gouker. “It’s an industry that employs thousands in Pennsylvania and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue, and it is not designed to be closed. 

“Growth in online casinos is helping, but it can’t entirely make up for the revenue lost from sports betting and land-based casinos being shut down.”

FanDuel Sportsbook/Valley Forge Casino led online sportsbooks with $53.7m in March wagers, down from $138.5m in February. That yielded $2.8m in taxable revenue. Rivers Philadelphia led the retail market with a $2.3m handle, down from $7.2m, and produced $146,281 in revenue.

“The bottom line is that Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks will not be healthy again until the sports world begins to reopen,” Gouker added. “No one yet knows for sure when that day will come. But sports leagues everywhere are trying to figure out ways to begin games again, so there is at least some reason for some optimism.”