The year 2004 is associated with great joys for the Pennsylvanians as the legislators passed Act 71 to legalize gambling. The Act Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act established the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and legalized casinos and racetracks.
The intention for legalizing gambling was to aid in creating job opportunities, boost the economy, stitch together the state’s financial deficit and curb illegal gambling. The progress was impressive, until the COVID-19 forced many casinos to shut down temporarily.
In 2020, Pennsylvania under gambling was recorded to collect about $2.7 billion, a decline from $3.4 billion in 2019. In 2020, slots and table games inside physical casinos amounted to $1.86 billion. That was a decrease of $1.4 billion or 43 percent from 2019.
Specifically, in that year, land-based casinos reported Gross Gaming Revenue of $3.26 billion. The senior vice president of strategic communications in the American Gambling Association was reported to say that 2020 was a devastating and challenging year for the industry.
The closure of online casinos and with some operating in half capacity, meant gamers had to look for an alternative. Majority shifted to online casinos. Fortunately, the state has access to safe and excellent casinos. Like here, you can see some of the best PA online casinos.
Current State of Casino Gaming
From the point of opposition by the people, a revolution of a new generation saw a more significant public acceptance of gambling. The gaming industry in Pennsylvania is the second richest and a lucrative revenue earner.
Casinos in the state since July of 2010 were permitted to operate table games. Stand-alone and Racinos may have up to 250 table games, while resort casinos are limited to a maximum of 50 table games. Table games legislation increased, seeing more variations available to gamers.
Moreover, the number of slots that resort casinos increased and continues to rise to date. This translates to an increase in the holding of a single casino. With, operationalization in the online platform, this boosted the sector further.
COVID-19 Effects on Casinos
With the inception of the pandemic, COVID-19, this was a foreign disease to the whole world. That meant a complete change in the operating capacity of casinos. With restrictions such as social distancing, wearing face masks, and reduced movements, casinos had to shut down.
Some casinos were permitted to designate up to 50 percent of their gaming floor for smoking, but a ban on indoor smoking was placed with the pandemic. Among the Pennsylvanians, this induced fear and trauma and, for the state, some economic strain.
The pandemic led to a paradigm shift. Quite a number of businesses shifted from physical casinos to online platforms in 2019. Having gone live in 2019, the interactive internet gaming platforms had no reasonable year-over-year comparable but seemed promising.
The iGaming was legally operational. In July, revenue generated July from internet gaming and online sports betting were $61.2 million, or nearly 22 percent of all casino gaming revenue. To casino-based table games, this represented a decrease of 32 percent from the year 2019.
Moreover, this came in as an opportunity for the state to work on the internet gaming platform creating more applications and scaling up its sphere of influence. Though online gaming is alluring with undeniable economic growth, the need for social networks cannot be ignored.
Reopening of Casinos
Pennsylvanians were advised to wear masks indoors and outdoors by the Department of Health. They adopted a mantra of “My mask protects you, your mask protects me” to promote responsibility among the people.
With suitable responsive measures by the people and a 32.2 percent successful complete vaccination of adults (two doses of Pfizer shots or Moderna or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson), effective May 31, Memorial Day, and the COVID-19 mitigation measures were lifted.
The casinos had previously been subjected to capacity limits of 75% in April 2020. The reopening of the operation would follow certain measures, including:
- Temperatures checks at entrance points for employees and customers.
- Employees and guests were to continue wearing face masks while indoors unless one is actively eating or drinking.
- The facilities are also to ensure they create safe environments for the customers. The temporary ban on indoor smoking continues. The governor of Pennsylvania said that until 70 percent of adults are vaccinated fully, the face mask order will not be lifted.
- Before its reopening, casinos such as Wind Creek reached out to their card members via email to share updates and recipes to the extent of calling to check in. They have a new reservation system where guests reserve a day and time in advance upon its reopening.
Future of Casinos in Pennsylvania
With the growing adoption of smartphones coupled with rapid penetration of better internet connectivity globally, Pennsylvania hopes to achieve robust growth in the Gaming industry. The state is home to 14 commercial casinos, and four more are expected to be established.
The facilities are referred to as “satellite casinos,” and can house up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games. The state has an online presence of going live housing ten online casinos. The number will definitely increase in the future.
Online playing has in the time of the pandemic proven to be a safer option and much more accessible. Various factors continue to make online casinos appealing, including
- Low operational cost for the management
- Low currency conversion fees
- Thousands of quality games
- Mobile accessibility
- No dress code required to play online
However, for some, the exciting bit of being in a casino are social engagements and the energies on the gaming floor. The social interaction need is met in these land-based facilities, translating to increased experiences in the casinos.
Essentially, successful online gaming and re-operationalization of land-based casinos will see the revenue generation increase and the gaming industry finding its way up to a prosperous industry. With casinos operating in full capacity, there is hope of reshaping the sector again.