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Study Finds Pennsylvania Gamblers Spend Significantly More Playing Online Casinos

Written By J.R. Duren | Updated:
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Participation in Pennsylvania online casinos by resident adults increased to 16% in 2023, jumping five percentage points over participation levels in 2021 and 2022, according to a study funded by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

The study, “Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment: Online Gambling Report 2023,” was conducted by Penn State University in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).

Key takeaways:

  1. More Pennsylvanians are gambling online since online casinos launched in 2021.
  2. 62.5% of Pennsylvanians participate in offline (in-person) gaming.
  3. Gamblers who played online casinos gamble significantly more than those who gambled in person at casinos.
  4. Problem gambling rates were higher among those who gamble online and in person
  5. Those who gamble only at in-person casinos have the lowest problem gambling rate

Study finds that online gamblers are growing in number, leading betting spending

Among the most significant findings in the study is that the share of people playing Pennsylvania online casinos has risen by five percentage points compared to the first and second years that iGaming was live.

That growth is due to several factors including operators’ efforts to sign new game studios and offer more game choices to their customers. For example, BetMGM Casino launched a series of new games by Play’n GO in Pennsylvania this week.

And, earlier this year, Fanatics went live with an online casino in the Keystone State.

That increased participation has shown up in PA online casino revenue reports. In 2023, online casinos generated $2.1 billion in revenue, according to data from the PGCB, up around $800 million over 2022 and 2021.

Part of what’s driving that increased revenue is that more people are participating in Pennsylvania iGaming, and those who place online casino wagers tend to spend the most money on gambling each month.

Penn State’s study found that those who gamble online and in person spend around $708 a month and those who gamble exclusively offline (in person) spend around $103 per month.

Additionally, the study found that those who gamble online and in person gamble up to three times more than offline-only gamblers.

“Those that gamble both online and offline (dual-mode) gambled most often, gambling about once a week. Online-exclusive gamblers gambled 2-3 times per month and offline-exclusive gamblers only gambled about once a month,” the 2023 Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment noted.

Problem gambling precursors evident in Pennsylvania online casino customers

Part of the purpose of the study of Pennsylvania’s online casino market was to analyze the impact of online casinos on problem gambling rates and problem gambling hotline contacts.

According to the study, just over 50% of those who gambled online and in person displayed at least one problem gambling trait, while around 40% of online-only gamblers and 16% of offline-only gamblers showed at least one problem gambling trait.

As for call rates to the state’s problem gambling hotline, the study found that calls specific to online casino gambling jumped from 20% of all calls to 1-800-GAMBLER in the 2020-2021 fiscal year to 34% in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. DDAP Secretary Latika Davis-Jones said in a Penn State news release about the study:

“Being aware of the current online gambling trends in Pennsylvania will help DDAP in its mission to assess and address how gambling behaviors impact compulsive and problem gambling within the Commonwealth. It will also help us to spread awareness that treatment and resources, like the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline, are there when someone needs help.”

 Young males dominate online gambling

Penn State’s study noted that the average age of a Pennsylvania gambler who exclusively plays online casinos was 33 years old. More than 75% of those who only gamble through online casinos were male. Also, around 65% of those who bet only with online casinos were single and never married.

The numbers are promising ones for gaming companies operating in Pennslyvania that were hoping online casinos would attract younger bettors. Millennial gamblers seem to have embraced Pennsylvania online casinos, as the average age of those who only bet at in-person casinos was 19 years higher than online-only gamblers.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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