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The success of Pennsylvania’s online casinos

Aside from the state lottery, which was launched in the early 1970s, the state of Pennsylvania was largely a gambling-free zone until the early 2000s, as conservative attitudes towards gambling prevailed. Until 2004, racetrack betting and the lottery were the only permitted forms of gambling in the state. 

However, the new millennium brought a softening of attitudes. Casinos were authorized in the state, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) was created to oversee all current and future gaming operations. 

The PGCB was thus able to gain valuable experience in this area of regulatory oversight, which would prove invaluable in the years to come. 

History of gambling in Pennsylvania

Today, when you look through the list of PA casinos by slotsource.com there is an astonishing variety of Pennsylvania online casino options. This is a testament to the fact that the state of Pennsylvania has embraced the online gaming world to a greater extent than almost any other state. 

By the 2000s, around the world, customers and gambling companies were beginning to explore the potential of the internet including sports wagering and online casino gaming, and Pennsylvanian leaders were determined that the Keystone State would not be left behind in the modern online gambling world. 

The landscape of US gambling changed dramatically in May 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the PASPA Act, effectively allowing states to launch gambling sectors. 

While many states hesitated or entered into prolonged debates about the merits of sports betting and online gambling, Pennsylvania was already in a position to launch its gambling industry. In October 2017, a full seven months before the Supreme Court decision, Governor Tom Wolf signed HB 271 into law. 

This bill effectively legalized online casinos, poker and sports betting and meant that Pennsylvania was ahead of the pack and able to launch the new sector within a year of the Supreme Court decision, ushering in a new era of gambling in the state. 

Thriving online casino sector

SugarHouse Casino was the first to offer a full range of online casino games to Pennsylvania players, but by the end of 2019, there were five online casino options, and revenue from the iGaming sector had surpassed the $10m mark. 

Those figures seem tiny in retrospect. As online casino gaming took off dramatically during 2020, the choices available to Pennsylvania players grew ever wider.

An additional 12 online casinos followed the pioneering first five. By the summer of 2021, gross gaming revenue in Pennsylvania had reached a staggering $1.4bn, with $1.1bn raised during the 2020-21 period alone. 

The dramatic growth of the Pennsylvania gambling sector, particularly online, has led to it rising towards the top of the rankings in the US sector. 

By the summer of 2021, Pennsylvania was leading the way in terms of online casino wagers handled and at the end of 2021, was a clear third in the list of online sports betting wagers handled, with over $10bn having been wagered on sports in the state.

What makes Pennsylvania online casinos stand out?

Going into 2022, Pennsylvania can boast one of the most dynamic and fast-growing online casino sectors in the world, despite a relatively high tax rate on online operators. So what lies behind this success and what makes the Pennsylvanian online casino sector stand out?

Fast out of the blocks

As mentioned above, Pennsylvania already had the legislation in place to bring in legal sports betting before the Supreme Court decision of May 2018. 

That meant officials, companies and customers were pioneers in online casino gaming during the summer of 2019. That has given Pennsylvania-focused operators longer to develop their high-quality online casino platforms – focusing them on the preferences and needs of the Pennsylvania gambler. 

As recently as June 2021, Pennsylvania was 1 of just 5 states in the US that permitted online casino gaming and the largest in terms of population. 

As pioneers of online casino gaming, Pennsylvania online casino operators have had longer than most to perfect their platforms. There is now a rich online environment for online casino fans in the state because of this.

Experienced regulators

You might think that the gambling industry would be only reluctantly supportive of regulation, but this is not the case – online operators in Pennsylvania are thriving at the same time because the state enforces strong regulatory oversight and a relatively high tax rate. 

When regulation is well run, with a balance between the community’s needs, the industry and the customers, online gambling has a secure foundation. In contrast, online casino players are reassured that the sites they use are safe.

When it comes to regulation, the fact that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board had been in existence since 2004 meant that state regulators were far more experienced than their counterparts in many other jurisdictions. The PGCB has been able to share advice, knowledge and skills with neighboring New Jersey, which also has a robust online casino sector. 

Competition brings success

The other important factor to consider in Pennsylvania’s success is the depth and vigor of competition among online casino operators. 

As already mentioned, there are currently 17 operators in the state and that level of competition has encouraged operators to work harder to attract new customers, which has led to an ever-improving range of games, bonuses, features and rewards for regular players. 

That competition has been enhanced by the relationships between the various parts of the Pennsylvania casino sector. Licenses to operate online casino products are held by a variety of operators and there are strong links between the brick-and-mortar casino, sports betting and online casino sectors, which has enabled companies to share best practices across sectors. 

It is this rich landscape of competition above all that has helped to propel the sector and Pennsylvania online casinos to greater heights and that is likely to see the state remaining as one of the major players in the industry throughout 2022 and beyond.

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