Pennsylvania Casinos Struggling to Reach Pre-Pandemic Revenue Totals

Pennsylvania casinos

Land based casinos in Pennsylvania struggle to reach pre-pandemic revenue totals due to online competition and COVID issues.

The year 2019 seems like such a long time ago. It was the last normal year we had before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. For casinos, the year was the last great revenue earner. Over the past two years, casinos have struggled with closures and ongoing restrictions upon reopening, with many not able to reach pre-covid revenues any time soon. In Pennsylvania, COVID along with online gambling competition plus new land-based venues have caused the existing gambling facilities in the state to continue to fall short of 2019 earnings.

2021 Earnings Revealed

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced the yearly figures late last week, revealing that commercial gaming brought in $4.73 billion. This was a nice increase of more than 38% when considering the 2019 totals. However, it is important to point out that the online casino industry brought in $1.11 billion. Of that number, $340.1 million was generated from online and retail sports betting.

The state is now home to 16 casino venues, 12 of which were present within the past 10 years. Mini casinos, or satellite venues, have started popping up and they are bringing in traffic that might otherwise have went to the larger casinos.

Only 13 of the 16 venues were open the full year of 2021. When you consider just these venues totals, the amount comes under $3.27 billion, which is what was earned in 2019. Only $3.21 billion was generated last year.

Several factors have contributed to the casinos being unable to move forward. We may see a better turnaround in 2022, but it won’t change the fact that more casinos are in operation now than before and online gaming is in the mix.

What is Impacting the Casino Revenues?

For starters, there are now four new casinos in the state since 2019. These are smaller gaming venues that have impacted the revenues of nearby competitors. The term cannibalization is used to describe how the new properties have taken customers away from existing venues.

Players are now traveling to the smaller venues to experience slots and table games. They can enjoy the same great entertainment in a smaller setting, plus the property is new, which is also appealing to players.

It is also important to consider the online gambling industry. In 2019, the state had yet to fully launch services. The pandemic was also non-existent. Now, with tons of apps and online casino sites to choose from, plus sports betting, players do not have to leave home to gamble.

This is a plus considering the COVID-19 pandemic and many people do not want to travel outside the home for fear of contracting the virus. Playing online also cuts down on any travel expenses that a casino has such as gas money, hotel stays, dining, etc.

Last year also had a few restrictions in place at the first of the year. The older population was also reluctant to visit the venues, which cut down on visitor totals.

Individual Casino Totals

Let’s take a look at the 2021 totals for Pennsylvania casinos. The Lady Luck Nemacolin and the Rivers Pennsylvania saw the largest declines, with Lady Luck dropping 27.9% to $23.7 million in revenue and Rivers falling 27.6% to $225.8 million.

Harrah’s Philadelphia dropped 25.4% to $187 million and Hollywood at the Meadows was down 22.2% to $183.4 million. Remaining casinos saw smaller dips with Wind Creek, Hollywood Penn National, and Presque Isle Downs all dropping just over 13%.

Rivers Pittsburgh was down just over 11% while Valley Forge and Mohegan Sun Pocono stayed at the 7% range.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.