Pennsylvania online gambling is coming in 2018. When the legal PA online casino industry launches, many operators will be the brick and mortar casinos in the state.
So what can we expect from these operators?
In this column I’ll offer up a quick breakdown of the casino industry in Pennsylvania. The focus will be on the type of gaming provider, the revenue generated at each casino, and who the potential leaders will be when online gambling becomes a reality in the Keystone State.
Brick and mortar casinos in PA
Despite its recent entry into full-fledged casino gambling (table games were only introduced in 2010) Pennsylvania has quickly established one of the biggest land-based industries in the US.
Since its gaming industry was expanded in several waves, there are several types of casinos in the state: racinos (a combination racetrack and casino), small stand-alone casinos (little more than expanded slots casinos), and the latest addition to Pennsylvania’s gaming options, resort-style casinos, with massive hotels and gaming floors.
There are currently 12 casinos in Pennsylvania. Six are racinos, four are stand-alone casinos, and two are resort-style casinos. There are also two other resort-style casinos waiting for approval from regulators.
Here are the current casinos in the state:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester (racino)
- Hollywood Casino Grantville in Dauphin (racino)
- The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane Township (racino)
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township (racino)
- Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem (racino)
- Presque Isle Downs in Erie (racino)
- Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono (stand-alone casino)
- Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh (stand-alone casino)
- Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem (stand-alone casino)
- SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia (stand-alone casino)
- Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington (resort casino)
- Valley Forge Casino Resort in Upper Merion Township (resort casino)
Revenue by PA casino
Interestingly, the biggest revenue generators in the state are not the mega-resort casinos. Instead it is the stand-alone Sands Bethlehem and the Parx Racino. Although it should be noted that the resort casinos are very new in the state, and they should surge to the top in the coming years.
Here is a look at the slots / table games revenue at each casino from fiscal year 2012/2013:
- Parx Casino and Racing = $376 million / $110 million
- Sands Casino Resort = $290 million / $165 million
- Rivers Casino = $283 million / $69 million
- Harrah’s Philadelphia = $249 million / $80 million
- The Meadows Racetrack and Casino = $240 million / $36 million
- Hollywood Casino (Penn National) = $238 million / $37 million
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs = $224 million / $42 million
- SugarHouse Casino = $184 million / $85 million
- Mount Airy Casino Resort = $146 million / $39 million
- Presque Isle Downs = $138 million / $14 million
- Valley Forge Casino Resort = $55.9 million / $31 million
- Nemacolin Woodlands Resort = $46k / $8k (June 2013 only)
Online gambling in PA, yea or nay?
So which of these properties will likely be at the forefront of Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry?
The Las Vegas Sands-owned Sands Bethlehem, despite being the second biggest revenue generator in the land-based casino industry, is unlikely to even offer online gambling, considering Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson’s vehement opposition to online gambling.
The property, however, is in the process of being sold, and any new owner is likely to offer a legal online casino or poker site.
Parx, the second-largest revenue generating casino in the Keystone State, was an active participant in the debate about online gambling. Ultimately Parx likely remains ambivalent now that the legislation permitting iGaming passed.
Caesars Entertainment is looking to be one of the leaders in US online gambling (it already has online sites in New Jersey and Nevada). So we expect to see Harrah’s Philadelphia among the early leaders, piggybacking on the success of WSOP.com in other locales and the Caesars NJ sites.
Other potential players
Both Mohegan Sun and Hollywood Casino (Penn National) have expressed interest in online gambling around the country. Mohegan Sun already has on-property online options and Penn National is already familiar with online options thanks to its pari-mutuel racing options.