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Pennsylvania Gambling’s Revenue Continues Increasing Even Though There’s a DOJ Threat on the Horizon

- August 19, 2019 By Oliver Young -

Around the same time last year, it was reported that three casinos were approved for gambling operations in the state of Pennsylvania, by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. And in comparison with the figures from last year, there was a 1.1% growth.

But amidst this good news, some really bad ones came by the DOJ. Apparently, the DOJ filed a notice of appeal of the ruling by a federal court, which prevented it from implementing stricter rules over which vertical was legal and which not on the US gambling market.

Whilst Pennsylvania gambling’s revenue is on the rise, the DOJ appeals the New Hampshire federal judge’s ruling on the Wire Act.

The Rise in Gambling Revenue in Pennsylvania

Casinos in Pennsylvania, as reported by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, showed revenue growth of 1.1% compared the same month last year. The report showed that slots revenue decreased by 2%, table games revenue increased by 4.3%, and there was a significant increase in sports betting.

As online gambling in Pennsylvania launched just recently, there were reports on the online gambling revenue, too. The people of Pennsylvania spent over $49.2 million across the sites operated by Parx Casino, Hollywood Casino and SugarHouse Casino. Online slots revenue was $518k, while the revenue from table games $295k.

The state saw a revenue boost of $812k thanks to the new online gambling operations in July. The nine licensed sports betting operators reported a revenue of over $5 million, even though with the online promotional credits this sum was reduced to $2.85 million. The land-based sportsbooks reported $2.2 million. The wagering handles the state enjoyed was $59.3million, which is way more than the $46.3 million in June. There was an improvement over the 41.7% share from June and the 65.7% handle from July.

The sports betting market presently is dominated by Sugar House, with $26.45 million of betting handle or 44.6%.

DOJ Appeals the Wire Act Ruling by the Federal Court

Right after receiving licenses for gambling operations in the state of Pennsylvania last year, many applicants for a sports betting license appeared. First Parx Casino and Hollywood Casino then Harrah’s Philadelphia showed interest in sports betting.

But then the Department of Justice tried to resurrect the online gambling ban. A New Hampshire federal judge ruled that the Wire Act forbids interstate sports betting but no other forms of online gambling. The federal judge said back in June that the DOJ’s opinion did not withstand scrutiny since the DOJ all-encompassing definition of online gambling would imply that the state lotteries should also be prohibited from offering online sales.

And now, the DOJ appealed this decision, with a three-page notice of appeal. The Department of Justice believes that the Wire Act says pretty much all online gambling forms are interstate gambling, not just sports betting and intends to go through with its harsh opinions. Although the appeal was anticipated, it still remains to be seen whether it would result in anything meaningful at all, or at least help clarify the blurred lines set with the Wire Act.

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