A return to stability after a period of disruption was the theme for 2021.
Particularly in the latter part of the year, most states experienced a decrease in volatility. Growth rates have mostly ranged from flat to high single digit percentages.
December was a better month than many others recently, so the year ended on a high note. None of the six online casino states saw their average daily earnings drop. The lowest rate was 5.6% for Delaware, while the fastest was 16.3% for West Virginia. The three largest states all fell roughly 8-10% interval.
New Jersey highlighted the return to normal. As the oldest regulated market in the United States, it’s the only one that existed long enough before the pandemic to establish what “normal” even looks like.
As always, the data for this article comes directly from state regulators.
The New Normal: Same as the Old Normal
Total iGaming revenue for online casinos and poker rooms in New Jersey was $133,212,006, as the daily average increased 9.3% from November. This total is a new state record and nearly a 5% increase from the previous record set in October.
This kind of performance is nothing new, however. Since the market’s inception, there have been more months that have set a record than not. This is especially true if we consider the number of days in each. Looking at the daily averages, to date the state has set a new record for itself exactly two-thirds time: 66 months out of 99 that NJ online gambling is legal.
What’s most interesting about the past 12 months isn’t that they’re unusual. Rather, it’s how much they resemble the annual trend set by the market in the pre-pandemic era.
Stable online gambling markets tend to follow an annual cycle. During the summer, people are outside and don’t play on their computers and phones as much. During the colder months, they have fewer entertainment options and gambling activity increases. With no underlying growth, revenue is like a wave, peaking in the winter and bottoming out in the summer.
New Jersey has steadily grown to more than 20% per year since the start of the market, however. Adding this constant growth to the seasonal cycle produces a different shape. Summer is not so much a time of decline as of stagnation, as the two trends contradict each other. These slumps extend from April to August in a typical year. Meanwhile, almost all of this annual growth is concentrated in the period from about September to March. Meanwhile, seasonal effects and organic growth worsen.
2020: the odd year
Almost nothing was normal in 2020 thanks to the COVID pandemic, and online gambling was no exception. Where most businesses have suffered, however, online casinos have made hay.
When retail casinos closed, players looked for an alternative. In states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they have found it with regulated online casinos. The effects have been dramatic and can be clearly seen in the chart below, with a big jump from March to April.
But when these retail casinos reopened, players didn’t stop playing online. These pandemic gains have proven to be long-lasting. At first, no one knew if that was really the case, or the decline was just going to be more gradual. Many outlets – including this one – pointed to slight declines like in July 2020 and April-May 2021 as possible evidence that gamers were playing less online as retail options returned or restrictions were lifted.
Comparing these declines with the pre-pandemic trend, however, tells a different story. In this light, they appear to be nothing more than the normal seasonal crises. The fact that they coincide with the reopening of casinos or the easing of restrictions is probably just another effect of the warmer weather. The virus spreads more easily in cold weather, so anti-COVID measures have generally been stricter in winter and early spring, and looser in summer.
By overlaying the monthly trend of 2021 on the average of 2015-2019, it becomes clear that the market has been functioning normally, just bigger than before.
Michigan Online Gaming Revenue – December 2021
the Wolverine State also had a great month. Gross revenue from online casinos and sports betting in Michigan amounted to $121,760,593, blowing the previous record – set in October – out of the water. This total is equivalent to an increase in the average daily income of 9.5% from November, nearly identical to New Jersey’s performance.
market leader BetMGM Casino drove those gains to a large extent, increasing his daily average by 10.9%. By doing so, it increased its market share by half a percentage point, 37.8%.
Looking at performance in proportional terms, Caesars continued to steal the show. Not only the old William Hill Casino has continued to grow at a rapid pace since rebranding, but it appears to be accelerating. His 62.5% the increase from November to December is the largest since September. He now holds a 3.3% share of the market, up 2.2% last month.
PointsBet almost as well, until 41.6% over the month. DraftKings, WynnBet and fox bet all also benefited from an increase in more than 10%.
FireKeepers Casino was the only operator to see its monthly total fall from November to December, even though Casino stool saw a small drop in its daily average.
Pennsylvania Online Gambling Revenue – December 2021
Online casinos and poker rooms in Pennsylvania also performed well in December, but not as well as NJ and Michigan. Like these other states, the operators set a new collective record for iGaming revenue at $127,634,008. On a daily average, this represents an increase of 7.9%, about one and a half percentage points less than other large states.
There have been no dramatic changes in market share in the Keystone State.
Penn National remains the largest license by a wide margin, due to having BetMGM, Bar Stool, DraftKings Casino and Hollywood under the same roof. His gain of 6.5% was slightly below the market average. Thus, its share has fallen slightly, but it still represents almost 40% of income.
Parx, Mount Airy (Fox Bet/PokerStars), Caesars, Play live! and wind stream all had good months, growing revenue by double-digit percentages. Mohegan Sun and Almost Isle (TwinSpires) were the only licenses to see their revenue drop in December.
Connecticut Online Casino Revenue – December 2021
In terms of gross revenue, Connecticut’s online casino growth in December was not particularly impressive. AT 6.5%, it was slower than any of the three major states. To some extent, however, it’s a testament to the fact that both operators got off to a flying start and didn’t need time to ramp up.
Moreover, both Mohegan Sun and DraftKings significantly reduced their promotional spend compared to the first six weeks of marketing. In this context, any growth in gross revenues is a good sign. In addition, this also means that revenue after promotional deductions increased by 14.2%.
The fight for market share in the duopoly continues to be competitive. The DraftKings/Foxwoods partnership remains the more dominant of the two operators, with a 59.4% share of total revenue. This is a slight decrease from November, when he held a 60.2% to share. If this trend continues, however, the market could reach parity within the year.
West Virginia Online Casino Revenue – December 2021
December represented another rally for volatility West Virginia online casino market. In total, the average daily market income increased 16.3%. This is an estimate, as WV reports its numbers week by week rather than month by month.
Greenbrier, the largest of the three licenses, recorded the smallest gains. Its turnover increased 7.1%, in the same stadium as the Pennsylvania market. It is the two smaller ones that have propelled the growth of the market to greater heights.
Mountaineer, who Houses Bet Rivers and Caesars, saw an increase of 19%, while Hollywood (which hosts DraftKings) did even better at almost 30 %.
Delaware Online Casino Revenue
There is reason to rejoice for the Delaware Lottery and its technology partner 888 assets. Their jointly operated online casinos have cracked the $1 million brand, bearing a total of $1,087,871.
This is not quite a first for the market, as it achieved this feat once before in May 2020. However, online casinos were experiencing a big bump due to the gambling shutdown at that time. This is the first time that Delaware has crossed this modest mark through natural growth.
State-by-state revenue and growth rate
Here are all those monthly income figures in one table:
|State||December ’21 iGaming GGR||Change (m/m)||Change (y/y)|
|Michigan||$121,760,593||+9.5%||N / A|
|Connecticut$18,437,083||$20,297,903||+6.5%||N / A|
A few things to note about the data:
- Monthly variations are based on daily averages, not the full month total. In other words, they are adjusted according to the number of days in each month.
- West Virginia reports weekly, not monthly, income. Its monthly totals are therefore an estimate based on the assumption that weekly earnings are evenly distributed over the seven days.
- When possible, RPO uses gross gaming revenue figures. However, the Pennsylvania figures include promotional deductions for table games and poker, as gross revenue figures are not available for these verticals.