The Pennsylvania online poker market contracted in September, but the lead operator, PokerStars PA bucked that trend with increased revenue. In total, online poker in PA generated nearly $3 million worth of revenue in September, down about 8.5% over the August numbers, according to data from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
Online poker in the Keystone state had $2.9 million in gross receipts in September this year, down from nearly $3.2 million in August. That still represented the second-best month of 2021, after August, and is in fact second biggest since the height of the global pandemic in July of 2020.
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Once the unusual and pandemic-specific months of early 2020 are removed, September 2021 marks the second-highest revenue month on record, so even with the dropoff from August, this last month was a good month for poker in PA.
The biggest recipient of that bounty was PokerStars PA. It made around two-thirds of the total revenue last month, leaving around $1 million to split between WSOP PA and the pair of offerings from BetMGM, BetMGM Poker PA and Borgata Poker PA.
PA in Detail
PokerStars PA, partnered with Mount Airy, is still the clear leader in the market, as it has been since it entered. That was easier for the first 18 months when it had a monopoly, but even since the entry of the Borgata brands in April, and WSOP PA in July, the Red Spade has held onto the market lead by a wide margin.
In fact, in general, PokerStars PA has held around two-thirds of the market or more since the competition launched earlier this year, so its position still looks fairly secure. The real market battle is for second and third place over that final third of the pie.
Caesars, operating in PA as WSOP PA, was able to hold onto just over 20% of the market, but that was down sharply from more than a quarter in August. That translated to a real-dollar loss of more than $200,000 in revenue month to month.
The final eighth of the market is shared between sister skins Borgata Poker PA, partnered with Rivers-Philadelphia, and BetMGM Poker PA, operating with Hollywood Casino. Between them, they made a bit more than $360,000 in September, down about $100,000 from the August combined total.
It seems clear the new operators have a lot of ground to make up if they want to catch the market leader. Not only was PokerStars the only operator to increase revenue over August, but it also captured more than two-thirds of the market again, after dropping to below 60% in August.
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The second-place spot for Caesars/WSOP PA is likely tied to the unprecedented bracelet series held on WSOP PA in August. That helped the operator to more than one-quarter of the August market, and no doubt attracted more long-term players that helped it retain 20% in September.
It remains to be seen what the lower two operators will have to do to increase their share of the PA online poker market. WSOP PA seems to be using its attachment to the larger live World Series of Poker (WSOP) to its advantage to secure a solid second place, but to date, the Borgata brands have struggled to find the hook that will attract players to the platform.
Finally, it is important to note that there is still limited data from the competitive market in PA, with only 6 months of data from more than one operator. With such a young market, long-term trends will always be hard to predict, so things in PA may look very different in a year’s time.
For the time being, at least, it is the global poker powerhouse PokerStars that leads the way in PA, and it looks to hold that spot by a wide margin for the foreseeable future.
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