The impact of the Covid-19 Lockdown on the Pennsylvania casino industry is to be seen in the coming weeks, when the state’s Gaming Control Board will release figures for 2020’s last quarter.
Casino Industry Posts Strong Figures in the Beginning of 2020 Fiscal Year
In the last decade, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry has been growing steadily, thus becoming an economic engine for the state and local communities. However, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders halted the expansion of the casino industry in 2020.
In March last year, brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania closed their doors in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The shutdown resulted in a 51% drop in gaming and fantasy sports revenue for the month to $153.5 million, according to figures from Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Entertainment venues started reopening in the end of the third quarter to quickly regain momentum, resulting in a state and local tax revenues increase of over $33 million between July and November 2020. Until Governor Tom Wolf issued another order to close venues for the second time in an effort to curb rising Covid-19 cases in the state.
Despite the unstable situation, the industry reported strong numbers early this fiscal year and together with the opening of the new Live! Casino Pittsburgh casino in Westmoreland County, as well as the considerable growth in new gambling sectors, the numbers in the end of the 2020 calendar year will not disappoint.
Local Tax Revenue From Gambling is Expected to Increase by 25% in 2020 Calendar Year
Doug Harbach, spokesman for the Gaming Control Board, the agency that regulates the state’s casino industry, said:
“Even with the decrease in revenue from casinos due to covid-19 closures, it is likely that (the 2020) calendar year will see an approximate 25% increase in the total local share tax revenue from all forms of legalized gambling.”
Through November, state and local governments collected total gaming tax revenue of $471.4 million — nearly 8% increase from $438.1 million reported through the first five months of the 2019-20 fiscal year, records show.
In the nine-month period ended September 30, 2020, local taxes on casino revenue stood at $106.7 million. The Gaming Control Board is expected to release December figures in the next few weeks, as will the state Department of Revenue release tax revenue numbers for the last quarter of 2020.
Estimates by the state Gaming Control Board say the 2.5-month closure in the spring will result in a $265 million decline in anticipated tax revenue. The impact of the most-recent closure on tax revenues is yet to be seen.
Pennsylvania’s closed casinos, including the new Live! Casino Pittsburgh, are set to reopen today along with other business operations affected by Gov. Wolf’s order.