Gambling Statistics in PA: Are the Odds in Your Favor?

min to read
Vuk Mujovic
Vuk Mujovic Author
Publication date: 2021-11-22 Last updated: 2021-11-23

Statistics are famous for the fact that, if cleverly presented, they can say anything. This is how the gambling statistics in PA can show that while the casino revenue in the State for August 2021 was ‘’only’’ $408.1 million, the actual gambling revenue in PA is almost three times as much.

Looking at the statistics in their relevant context, we can deduct several points:

  • Increased accessibility has not increased gambling addiction
  • An increasing number of people are switching from casinos to online options
  • Casino revenue is on the rise
  • Tax revenue for Pennsylvania from gambling is crucial

Important Gambling Statistics in PA

  • Gambling revenue PA in casinos alone will rise over $2Bn by 2024
  • Pennsylvanians Spent $3.4Bn on gambling last year
  • Revenues increased 11.17% in 2020/2021
  • Gambling makes ~4% of tax revenue
  • Casinos in PA employ over 16.000 workers
  • There is a 98% Return to Player
  • Federal taxes are 10x as much as state taxes
  • Biggest win in 2020 was $537,000.00
  • Traditional games make 30% of the entire market

Statistics and Methodology

Please take note that this article is an amalgamation. While all statistics are represented as-is with the context provided, it is more than likely that different organizations and sources providing the statistics have used different metrics when making their reports.

Because of this, it is more than possible to have conflicting results to a degree if issues like domain and nomenclature were not identical in both tasks.

Additionally, some information is self-reported by either players or casinos and can be influenced by bias or other causes and should be taken with a grain of salt.

1. Steady Rise in Gambling Revenue PA is Predicted to Continue

(Statista)

According to Statista, casino revenue in Pennsylvania has increased over 100% from 2012 to 2020, noting $884 million in revenue in 2012 and $1.78 billion in 2020 per reports.

Current estimates for 2021 are that further increase will be experienced, reaching $1.87 billion, which is a 5% increase across all casino revenue streams. We need to note that this doesn’t include the hospitality sector in the sixteen PA casinos, which are considered a separate industry per reports.

It is predicted that the Pennsylvania casino industry will reach a revenue of $2.116,76 million by 2024, which indicates a rise in revenue faster than inflation, offering new investment opportunities in the market.

2. Pennsylvanians Spend $265.62 on Gambling

(US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

With the total gambling revenue in PA being $3.4Bn in 2020/2021, we can deduce that each of the 12.8M Pennsylvanians spent roughly $265.62 on gambling, which is $4 over the national average. 

This doesn’t sound much as even items such as education on a national level are using $1,491, but if we know that only 18% of people gamble regularly and 25% play monthly, these numbers become a lot closer.

There is no exact data on expenditure per person playing or individualized gambling revenue for PA statistics, but by extrapolation, we can conclude that ~25% of PA residents spend around $1000 on gambling, while the top 2,5% of players lose over $5000 every year in PA casinos, including both online and offline options.

As expected, this aggregate number has been rising steadily over the years. In 2012 the average spending was only $131, and it is expected that this year will set a record with average spending passing the $300 threshold.

3. Casinos on Average increased Revenue on Slots by 11.17%

(Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board annual report)

Slot games are not the most popular in PA because they hold only 22% of the player base. But, this is mostly due to the fact that all of the games like poker, blackjack, and roulette are listed under ‘’traditional casino games’’ when it comes to gambling statistics in PA.

In reality, slots are the biggest moneymakers when it comes to PA gambling revenue. And, while some casinos have reported a reduction in gaming over the last year, overall, the revenue is increasing amongst the 16 casinos, even with the pandemic closing many doors.

Prior to the pandemic, slots made 40% of all games. In 2012 these were all considered casino revenue, but since 2017 more and more players are switching to online slots. Currently, 32% of Pennsylvanians report playing slots in a casino at least once a year, and that number is predicted to fall under 30% by 2024.

Slot Machine Revenue by Operator (FY20/21 closure days / FY19/20 closure days) Slot Machine Revenue FY2020/21 Slot Machine Revenue FY2019/20 % Change

Parx Casino (closed 23/106 days)

$373,416,393

$300,425,667

24.30%

Wind Creek Bethlehem (closed 23/103 days)

$221,905,714

$187,923,203

18.08%

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh (closed 30/86 days)

$196,095,183

$226,389,823

-13.38%

Hollywood Casino at Penn National (closed 23/101 days)

$159,846,973

$147,731,218

8.20%

Mohegan Sun Pocono (closed 24/98 days)

$145,362,752

$140,889,835

3.17%

Harrah's Philadelphia Casino (closed 23/104 days)

$142,440,449

$136,148,626

4.62%

Mount Airy Casino Resort (closed 23/97 days)

$135,452,184

$109,439,504

23.77%

The Meadows Casino (closed 27/84 days)

$133,351,893

$144,934,215

-7.99%

Rivers Casino Philadelphia (closed 62/107)

$102,722,138

$123,557,282

-16.86%

Presque Isle Downs and Casino (closed 23/102 days)

$79,335,693

$80,898,970

-1.93%

Valley Forge Casino Resort (closed 23/105 days)

$76,835,469

$75,124,280

2.28%

Live! Casino Philadelphia (closed 0/0)

$59,141,761

n/a

n/a

Live! Casino Pittsburgh (closed 23/0)

$42,041,563

n/a

n/a

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin (closed 23/87 days)

$19,625,273

$24,492,852

-19.87%

Statewide Total (closed 350/1,180 days)

$1,887,573,437

$1,697,955,473

11.17%

Source: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB)

4. Almost 4% of Tax Revenue in PA Comes from Gambling

(Pennsylvania State Data Center)

As far as gambling revenue for PA goes, the state regulators reported nearly $1.4 billion during the former fiscal year, with the revenue of the industry being $3.9 billion in total. This also doesn't count any persons employed by the casino or the state taxes paid by the winners.

This makes the direct tax revenue which forms 3.7% of the PA total state budget for 2020.

While such an increase doesn’t sound like much presented as percentiles, the increase in revenue has allowed more leeway for PA, especially in 2020, to manage its social and civil services without major cut-downs.

In comparison, the tax contribution in 2012 was only 1%, meaning that even with the increase in the total budget, the share of gambling contribution is resigned, mostly due to the online option. And with the taxes predicted to rise over $2Bn in 2024, the PA state budget seems to be flourishing from the arrangement.

The biggest individual chunk of casino taxes goes to state aid education, and there is a dedicated part to aid those who suffer from gambling addiction.

5. Casinos in PA Employ over 16.000 Workers

(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

While a lot of casinos didn’t disclose the number of people working in their hospitality sector compared to their gambling and entertainment sector, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics got a clear picture last year due to the pandemic, improving the gambling statistics in PA.

Over 16 thousand workers required protection from the spread and could not get back to work during the lockdowns.

As far as forecasts go, the gambling statistics in PA don’t show that there was a significant rise in employment when it comes to casino gambling specifically. In 2012 there was a similar number of people with regular employment and the only thing that has changed is the salary, as it seems that over the course of the last few years the same number of employees has gained additional hours.

The average salary of a casino worker in Pennsylvania is currently $43,938.00, meaning that over $700 million is spent every year on paychecks in the state. An average dealer can expect to make $34,709 each year without tips.

6. 98% of Money Used in Casinos is Won Back

(Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board annual report)

Gambling statistics in PA tend to be shifted in this regard, especially due to online gambling. With many games having the Return to Player close to 99%, it is reasonable that roughly 98% of the money that has been brought into a casino is also brought out as winnings.

This gambling statistic has improved for the player significantly, mostly due to an increase in online gambling. In 2012, the average return to player was at 90%, which held to 2017 when online platforms were legalized. As such options grow, this high RTP percentage will only become solidified.

But, that is far from meaning that almost every player is a winner. Statistically, only 18% of players will end the year in the black from gambling, and fall under if we count taxes. 

Less than 10% will actually win a countable amount, and less than 1% will leave with enough to pay significant federal taxes. This is why so many professional gambling outlets are urging players to see gambling for what it is; entertainment.

Only if the player is having fun, they will always leave the table or machine as a winner, regardless of the outcome.

7. Federal Gambling Taxes are almost 1000% Higher than PA Taxes

(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

It might sound that there aren’t a lot of taxes when it comes to gambling statistics in PA and winnings, as the state tax here is only 3.07%. But, that doesn’t include federal taxes.

Due to the fact that losses are deductible, not a lot of money is paid to the federal pot. For PA, the income from gambling taxes has risen from $440 million in 2012 to over $1.4 billion in 2020 and is predicted to break the $2Bn mark by 2024. The federal budget, in comparison, only received roughly $300 million in 2020, according to the Associated Press, and had an influx under $100 million prior to 2017.

If you were to win $100,000, you would notice that the casino will payout only $74,000 as 24% must be withheld by the operator to pay your federal taxes. This will happen on any amount that is over $5000 or more than 300x the price of the wager.

Here, you should receive a W-2G form that you should submit on your return by January next year. You should disclose these winnings even if you haven’t received the form.

But, if you are a non-citizen playing in PA, you will receive the 1040NR and are subject to 30% in taxes over the 3.07% you have already paid to the state.

For this reason, all players need to remember to count both their losses and their winnings, as the losses are deductible from the winnings at the return report.

8. Biggest Winner in 2020 Won $537,000.00 on Slots

(Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board annual report)

While popular media usually prefers players winning big in poker or blackjack, the gambling statistics in PA prefer online slots players. In 2020, the biggest winner was in the Hollywood Online Casino, the digital version of the Hollywood Casino, winning $537,000 in total.

This snippet of information is ever-changing as in 2012, the biggest winner won $1 million, and that is still pocket change compared to the biggest winner in PA history so far, which is $273.9 million won in 2018 in cash value for the lottery which was claimed anonymously by the Emerald Legacy Trust.

Statistically, the only bigger winner than one playing online slots can be if someone from PA wins the lottery. Traditional casino games, also including live casino games for online operators, may be more fun and prestigious for many but have limited possibilities of winning due to their mechanics.

9. Traditional Games Are the Most Popular

(Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board annual report)

According to Statista, 37% of all gamblers, including lottery, raffle, and PA sports betting players, spend money at a casino.

This list has seen significant changes over the years, mostly due to the stellar rise in online games and fantasy sports. The biggest loser here was casino slots, which are the only option recording a drop from 40% in 2012 to 32% in 2020. 

It is predicted that while the number of players in casinos will grow in the future, the market share of both lottery and casinos will drop in comparison to online casino gambling.

Of this number, more than a third (38%) play online games and card games, including roulette. But this is a larger umbrella and, if divided, will fall under the 32% which play slot games.

The full list is as follows:

  • Any gambling: 73%
  • Lottery: 66%
  • Raffle: 41%
  • Casino: 37%
  • Slots: 32%
  • Card games: 23%
  • Pull-tabs: 21%
  • Bingo: 20%
  • Sports: 20%
  • Fantasy sports: 17%
  • Online wagers: 15%
  • Horse and dog races: 14%

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