Online poker in Pennsylvania generated $2.7 million in revenue in the first month of 2021, according to figures released last week by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
The revenue generated, which came from the sole operator in the state, PokerStars PA, is only negligibly lower than the total PokerStars reported in December 2020. In fact, online poker revenue totaled approximately $2.7 million in three of the last six months with the other three months at approximately $2.4 million.
Considering revenue in the Keystone State peaked at $5.3 million in April 2020 and experienced its low point of $1.8 million in February 2020, the last six months have been relatively flat.
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On an annual basis, revenue for January 2021 was 26% higher than the first month of 2020, a sign that the market is healthier today than it was last year even though the hype from the November 2019 launch in the state was still a factor. Undoubtedly, the effects of the pandemic are still in play and are a contributing factor to the success of 2021 so far.
Key performance drivers for the month included the 2021 Winter Series which featured 45 events and more than $1 million in guaranteed prize money and the return of the Cardex promotion which provided players the chance to win up to $5000 a day.
A Look Ahead to the Second Year of Online Poker in PA
The first quarter of a Year 2 for PA online poker is now in the books, and though the effects of the pandemic make it difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison to the first quarter of Year 1, the COVID impact is somewhat offset by the hype factor associated with the first months after the launch.
In its first three months, PokerStars PA generated $6.6 million in revenue. Over the last three, the state’s only online poker room brought in $7.9 million, an increase of 19.2%. And though a bump of nearly 20% is nothing to scoff at, when compared to the neighboring online poker market in New Jersey, the increase seems more modest.
Online poker in New Jersey soared over the same period, posting a 61.3% increase, however, the disparity between markets can be attributed to several factors including Pennsylvania starting from a higher base due to the hype and marketing associated with the market launch, and New Jersey having three online poker networks compared to just one in PA.
But that situation in the Keystone State is about to change.
New Online Poker Rooms in Pennsylvania Poised to Launch
In its second year, the Pennsylvania online poker market will almost certainly expand to three online poker networks. Before the midway point of Year 2, we expect to see the partpoker US Network enter the PA market with at least one of its online poker brands (BetMGM Poker, partypoker and Borgata Poker).
Not too long after, we will likely see the launch WSOP PA on the new 888 Poker 8 platform.
According to Yaniv Sherman, SVP and Head of US at 888 Holdings, the plan is to debut the new Poker 8 platform in the US as the software that powers WSOP.com.
“We are working hard to go live the first half of the year, hopefully sooner, but right now that is our plan – sometime during the first half of 2021 to go live,” Sherman told pokerfuse in an exclusive interview earlier this year.
“We are aiming to be there in time for the WSOP tournament […] so we are trying to meet that timeline,” Sherman continued.
Besides the expansion of online poker within the state, we may also see Pennsylvania join Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) which would allow the operators in those state to combine their player pools.
It is also likely that we will see Michigan join the shared player pool in 2021 as well, and as the compact grows to include more states, the prospect of online poker rooms launching in West Virginia where online poker is already legal becomes even brighter.
Pennsylvania Online Casino and Sportsbook Revenue Continues to Increase
For the seventh consecutive month, online casino revenue in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania reached its all-time high. Slots and table games, which both individually posted their highest amounts last month, combined to bring in $77.7 million in revenue in January.
Leading all operators for the month were the online casinos associated with the land-based Hollywood Casino which generated $27.6 million, a record for a single month by a single licensee. The online casino operators contributing to that total include DraftKings PA, BetMGM PA, and Hollywood Casino.
The single online operator to generate the most revenue in January was Rivers Casino Philadelphia under the BetRivers brand which collected $21 million in revenue last month.
Online sports betting posted record revenue for the fourth straight month with $45.3 million generated. Total handle at online sportsbooks in the state also reached an all-time high last month with all operators combining to process $580 million in wagers.