The Pennsylvania gaming industry has never been healthier. The record gaming play comes in spite of the worst global health crisis that the world has seen in decades.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) this week revealed that the industry it regulates generated gross revenue in excess of $5 billion in its most recent fiscal year. The state gaming regulator says gross gaming revenue (GGR) from all verticals totaled a little more than $5.04 billion during the 2021/2022 fiscal year that ran July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
It was the first-time overall revenue for games regulated by the Gaming Control Board topped $5 billion during a fiscal year. In addition, the combined tax revenue from these games during the fiscal year will top $2 billion for the first time,” the PGCB said.
The $5 billion in fiscal year 2021/22 gaming revenue is exclusive of revenue generated by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which is one of the nation’s richest. The state lottery sold almost $5.3 billion worth of tickets during its 2020/21 fiscal year, with net proceeds totaling $1.3 billion. Lottery revenue numbers for 2021/22 have not yet been disclosed.
$5B New Normal
Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf found common ground in 2017 when they opted to greatly expand legal gaming in the commonwealth. Republicans, unwilling to raise taxes, and Wolf, seeking to increase government revenue to fund additional spending, specifically education, turned to more gambling to bridge their differences.
The state’s 2017 gaming expansion package authorized many new forms of gambling, including satellite casinos, iGaming with online slots and table games, sports betting both in-person and over the internet, daily fantasy sports, slot-like terminals at certain diesel truck stops, and airport gaming lounges.
Five years since Wolf signed the new gaming verticals into law, and Pennsylvania’s gaming industry and the state government are reaping the benefits. Prior to the massive expansion, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry typically pulled in around $3 billion a year in gross revenue.
Frank Gamrat, executive director of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a think tank working to defend the interests of taxpayers, citizens, and businesses against “an increasingly burdensome and intrusive government,” expects $5 billion to be the new norm for the state gaming industry.
“When I look at total revenues from prior to the pandemic, you hit a plateau. From 2011 to 2019, which was primarily slots and tables only, it was about $3 billion a year in total revenue. So, if we hit $5 billion in total revenue from all forms of gaming, my guess is it will probably be consistent for the next few years unless there’s another expansion.”
Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is much different today than it was prior to COVID-19.
The pandemic led to many in-person gamblers moving online, and while most of that play has since returned to the brick-and-mortar properties, iGaming sites continue to benefit from traditional players getting their feet wet with gambling over the internet. Internet casinos continue to see elevated revenue compared with 2019.
There are also more casinos in Pennsylvania today than there were in 2019. Since the pandemic onset, the number of land-based casinos in the Keystone State has grown from 12 to 16, the newcomers being Live! Casino Philadelphia, Live! Casino Pittsburgh, Hollywood Casino York, and Hollywood Casino Morgantown.
Pennsylvania additionally today has 65 truck stops that offer slot-like video gaming terminals (VGTs).
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