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Slow January Revenue Is Becoming A Feature Of The US Online Casino Market

Written By Alex Weldon on February 22, 2024 - Last Updated on February 26, 2024
Man shoveling snow in winter.

US online casinos and poker sites collectively earned about $616 million in gross gaming revenue for January 2024, down 2% from December. Although the cold months are the hottest time for iGaming overall, a slowdown in January is not surprising. It has been a consistent feature of the market that January growth is at least weaker than December and February, if not negative.

Even so, a 2% drop is slightly more than the PlayUSA forecast called for. One of the more significant changes to the model since last year’s projections at Bonus was to account for a slow start to the year. But even with that correction, $616 million is 0.5% less than the projected $619 million for January.

Pennsylvania, the largest of the US markets, was the deciding factor. The PA online casino and poker revenue drop of 7.3rather than the projected 1.8% equates to an $11 million shortfall. Had the Keystone State performed in line with the projection, the total market would have come in about 1% ahead of target, rather than behind.

Michigan online casinos performed about as expected, while Connecticut came up short. New Jersey, on the other hand, did slightly better than the forecast, and West Virginia got off to a very hot start for 2024.

(Note: At of the time of publication, Delaware had not yet reported its January revenue. This article has now been updated to include its January figures, which were higher than expected due to the change in operator.)

Why Does Online Casino Revenue Slow Down in January?

Online casino revenue growth in the US is consistently lower in January than the months before and after.
Credit: Alex Weldon / PlayUSA

Online casino player activity ebbs and flows throughout the year. This seasonality is mixed in with underlying organic growth and the short-term effects of operators’ marketing efforts and other factors. It can be hard to tease all these effects apart, but the trends become clearer with every additional year of data supplied by state regulators.

As for why the seasonal trends occur, we can only speculate. However, when it comes to the heightened activity in winter, there are two likely causes:

  • People are going out less and looking for ways to have fun at home.
  • Hybrid apps lead to crossover from sports betting customers, whose activity levels follow the NFL season.

But why would January be slow? Chances are, it’s for the same reason that retail sales in most sectors slump after Christmas. People spend a lot of money on holiday travel and gifts in December. That leaves them with less disposable income and perhaps debts to pay off in January.

As it turns out, this January was even slower than usual for retail sales. The drop from December to January was 0.8% worse than historical seasonality would suggest, and 0.6% worse than analysts projected, accounting for larger economic trends.

In the online casino space, these seasonal dips become more apparent as underlying market growth slows down. During the pandemic iGaming boom, organic growth was enough to offset seasonal downturns, so the weaker months just had less positive growth. Now that annual growth rates have dropped to around 20%, it’s more common that we see monthly growth go temporarily negative during the downward phases of the seasonal cycle.

Online Gambling Revenue Highlights — Jan. 2024

Pennsylvania

  • Pennsylvania online gambling sites won $189.3 million in January 2024, up 18.1% year-over-year. That’s the slowest annual growth rate the Keystone State has experienced since July 2022 and the third-lowest in state history. Although Pennsylvania’s full-year 2024 growth is expected to be stronger than New Jersey’s and Michigan’s, it has started the year off a little more slowly than those states.
  • Daily average revenue dropped from $6.6 million in December to $6.1 million, a decrease of 7.3%, the largest drop of any state.
  • Pennsylvania also underperformed the PlayUSA forecast by the largest margin of any state: 5.6%. 
  • Dragging the state down was poor performance by the largest license-holder, Penn Entertainment, which saw a 15.5% drop in revenue. In addition to its own Hollywood Casino brand, Penn serves as the partner for BetMGM and DraftKings. Table games revenue for Penn dropped 34%, but this may include promotional deductions due to a quirk of Pennsylvania revenue reporting. This could be indicative of a promotional spending blitz by DraftKings, which is known for such largesse.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey online gambling sites won $183.1 million in January 2024, up 19.8% year-over-year. That’s faster than either Michigan or Pennsylvania, despite New Jersey being the oldest of the three markets and having the highest per-capita iGaming revenue to begin with.
  • The daily average revenue for New Jersey works out to $5.9 million, up 1.6% from $5.8 million in December.
  • New Jersey beat the PlayUSA forecast by 3.8%, the only state other than West Virginia to have done so in January.
  • The NJ online casino market share battle between the top three license-holders in New Jersey remains an interesting narrative. Golden Nugget Online Casino remained on top with $52.2 million in GGR for January, but that’s a decline of 1.1% from December.
  • Conversely, second-place Resorts gained 6.8%, putting it at $49.3 million and within striking distance of the market lead. One-time market leader Borgata remains in third with $42.0 million.

Michigan

  • Michigan online gambling sites won $181.9 million in January 2024, up 18.3% year-over-year. That’s a bit of a slowdown compared to the previous six months, but in keeping with where we expected Michigan to start the year.
  • The daily average revenue was $5.9 million, essentially unchanged from December. For all three years of its history, Michigan’s monthly revenue has changed by less than 1% from December to January.
  • January revenue in Michigan was very close to expectation, just 0.2% shy of the PlayUSA forecast*.
  • Firekeepers Casino had the best month of any state operator, up 11%. Hollywood Casino and PlayGunLake had the worst performances, each down more than 20%. 

*Disclosure: The Michigan forecast was updated to correct a data-entry error discovered while writing this article. Before the correction, the discrepancy between the forecast and reality would have been closer to 2%. The full-year forecast for Michigan has not changed, only the distribution of revenue throughout the year.

Connecticut

  • Connecticut online casinos won $41.5 million in January 2024, up 37.3% year-over-year. That’s the slowest pace of growth for the Nutmeg State since July 2023, yet still much faster than the larger states.
  • The daily average revenue was $1.3 million. Although it dropped 6.2%, there’s no cause for alarm, as December revenue had spiked so sharply from November that a downward correction was almost inevitable.
  • Connecticut’s January revenue was 2.8% behind the PlayUSA projection. This was updated at the beginning of the year based on December data, and that may have been an over-correction.
  • Promotional spending for Connecticut’s two operators diverged in December but the two have brought themselves closer together once more. DraftKings doubled its promotions in January (after halving them in December), while Mohegan Sun scaled back. The result was a 1.5 percentage point shift in market share in DraftKings’ favor, to 57.5%.

West Virginia

  • West Virginia online casinos won $16.4 million in January 2024, up 39.0% year-over-year. That’s a substantial jump from the growth rate in November and December.
  • Daily average revenue for the Mountaineer State was $527,878. Although only a modest 3.2% increase from December, it’s the best performance of any state.
  • West Virginia has generally been slowing down, so this January jump goes contrary to the forecast and puts it 8.0% ahead of the projection to begin the year.
  • The Charles Town license gets all credit for the gains, with revenue rising 22% to take the market lead from Greenbrier. All other licenses saw a decrease in revenue. Charles Town serves as partner for DraftKings Casino, Hollywood Casino and Fanatics (which took over from PointsBet in November).

Delaware

  • The switch in operating partner from 888 Holdings to BetRivers has proven hugely beneficial to the Delaware Lottery, as online casino revenue nearly tripled from $1.17M in December to $3.41M in January.
  • Year-over-year growth was likewise an impressive 186%, as Delaware’s revenue had remained essentially flat through 2023.
  • Table games improved more from the switch than “video lottery” (slots). Revenue from the latter increased 2.4x, but table games revenue increased more than 5x. 888 had made less than $200,000 from tables in December, and BetRivers earned more than $1 million through that channel in January.

US Online Gambling Revenue Summary Table

StateGGR - January 2024Monthly ChangeAnnual ChangeMonth vs. ForecastFull Year TotalYear vs. Forecast
Pennsylvania$189,302,560-7.3%+18.1%-5.6%$189,302,560-5.6%
New Jersey$183,071,347+1.5%+19.8%+3.8%$183,071,347+3.8%
Michigan$181,881,749+0.3%+18.3%-0.2%$181,881,749-0.2%
Connecticut$41,495,341-6.2%+37.3%-2.8%$41,495,341-2.8%
West Virginia$16,364,233+3.2%+39.0%+8.0%$16,364,233+8.0%
Delaware$3,408,944+192.2%+186.5%+127.3%$3,408,944+127.3%
US Total$615,524,174-1.7%+20.7%-0.5%$615,524,174-0.5%

Notes on the Data

  • Raw data for this article comes from reports issued by the state regulators: the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Michigan Gaming Control Board, West Virginia Lottery, Delaware Lottery, and the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
  • 2024 online gambling revenue projections are original calculations performed by Alex Weldon as a collaboration between Bonus.com and PlayUSA. Please cite PlayUSA and Alex Weldon if reporting projected numbers or market performance compared to the projections.
  • Monthly growth figures are adjusted for the number of days in the month. That is, they represent the change in daily average revenue, not full-month gross revenue.
  • West Virginia reports revenue weekly, not monthly. Its monthly totals are an estimate, assuming that revenue for partial weeks is distributed evenly between the seven days.
  • Pennsylvania only reports adjusted revenue (gross revenue, less promotional spending). Bonus calculates gross slots revenue by subtracting payouts from coin in, but no such data is available for table games and poker. Therefore, actual gross revenue is probably somewhat higher than what we report.

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