West Virginia Online Casinos Surge in October, Change in Market Leadership Likely

Total US online casino revenue held roughly steady from September into October, but the West Virginia state market experienced a massive upswing. National gross gaming revenue (GGR) for October was $567 million, representing a 3.5% drop in the daily average, yet the change for West Virginia was a 20.9% increase.

Online casinos typically see their biggest monthly increase in revenue sometime in the fall. September is the most common month for the spike, coinciding with the beginning of the NFL season and the return of sports bettors.

However, individual states can vary slightly. Pennsylvania, for instance, seems to rebound from its summer slump in August. The trend for West Virginia is less clear. In 2021—its first full year of legal iGaming—the Mountain State also saw a late recovery in October. However, last year, it followed the national pattern and experienced its spike in September.

It’s news that will surely be welcomed by the West Virginia Lottery, which regulates online gambling in the state and collects a share of the revenue. After growing explosively in 2022, the state’s online casinos had a weak showing through the first half of the year. The annual growth rate, which was once over 100%, slid from 55% in January to just 19% in September. This belated fall bounce has brought it all the way back to 48% in October.

Signs of DraftKings Dominance in WV

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town has once again pulled ahead of the Greenbrier for single-month online casino revenue, and may be on the cusp of doing so more permanently.Alongside those autumnal gains, West Virginia may be on the cusp of seeing a lasting change in market leadership.

Of the four land-based license holders, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town beat the usual market leader, Greenbrier, for October revenue—$6.8 million to $6.2 million.

Although West Virginia does not report revenue for individual operators, it may be reasonable to treat Charles Town as roughly synonymous with DraftKings Casino and Greenbrier with BetMGM Casino.

These were the first operators launching on those respective licenses in the summer of 2020. Each license has since added two more operators: FanDuel and Golden Nugget for Greenbrier and PointsBet and Barstool for Charles Town. However, none of those later launches coincided with much change in market share or increase in revenue.

From that, we can infer that DraftKings and BetMGM probably account for the lion’s share of the revenue reported for each of those licenses.

A Comeback for the Early Market Leader?

As the first to launch, DraftKings dominated the early days of the market but was overtaken by BetMGM in February 2021. This October isn’t the first time Charles Town has retaken the lead from Greenbrier for a single month. It did so previously in February 2021 and again in March 2023. However, Greenbrier has remained well ahead throughout if we look at a three-month average instead.

That may be changing, however. Since BetRivers and Caesars came into the picture, operating on the Mountaineer Casino license, they appear to have been pulling more share from the Greenbrier than from Charles Town.

Charles Town’s share has, despite some fluctuations, tended to remain just shy of 40%. Greenbrier, on the other hand, has slipped from around 55% to just above 40%.

In its latest quarterly report, DraftKings claims to have pulled ahead of BetMGM as the national leader in iGaming GGR. What we’re seeing in West Virginia may be the same reversal playing out at the state level.

Online Gambling Revenue Highlights — Oct. 2023

Pennsylvania

  • Pennsylvania online gambling sites won $186.9 million in October 2023, up 33.8% year-over-year. Both figures are very similar to September’s, down only slightly.
  • Although the monthly total was almost unchanged, the extra day in October means daily average revenue dipped to $6.0 million, down 3.4% compared to September.
  • Pennsylvania’s year-to-date total iGaming GGR is now $1.71 billion, 0.7% ahead of the Bonus forecast and on track for nearly $2.1 billion by the end of the year.
  • Caesars’ launch of its new Caesars Palace standalone casino has continued to pay off in the Keystone State, adding another 7.2% to its daily average revenue since September, when most other licenses have declined. PokerStars and PlayLive were the only others to see an increase.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey online gambling sites won $166.8 million in October 2023, up 13.3% year-over-year. Though that rate is slower than Pennsylvania and Michigan, New Jersey is also a more mature market and, therefore, slower-growing overall.
  • The daily average slipped slightly to $5.4 million, though at a drop of just 1.5%, this is less of a slowdown than the other large states.
  • New Jersey’s year-to-date iGaming GGR is now $1.57 billion, right on track for the $1.90 billion full-year total in the Bonus forecast.
  • Hard Rock had an exceptional month, with daily average revenue increasing nearly 30%. In addition to its own brand, that license includes Unibet and Bet365.
  • Golden Nugget is once again the number one license in New Jersey, increasing its daily average revenue by 5.9% and nearly becoming the first licensee to post a $50 million month. It has now grown 28.7% year-over-year, more than twice the state market average. However, it isn’t clear that the Golden Nugget brand is primarily responsible for this, as the license also includes other significant operators like FanDuel Casino and BetRivers.
  • New Jersey has a new active license in Harrah’s. However, it only reported $8 in revenue in October, which Bonus believes to be from a test run of the upcoming Jackpocket CasinoFrom the looks of things, Caesars will be moving its Harrah’s Online Casino to the eponymous license alongside Jackpocket.

Michigan

  • Michigan online gambling sites won $160.3 million in October 2023, a disappointing result compared to other states. That puts its annual growth rate for October at just 13.7%, the lowest in state history.
  • Michigan’s weak October performance means it has once again slipped behind New Jersey.
  • The daily average revenue was $5.2 million,6.8% drop from September. In the past, Michigan has only seen such sharp declines in May, entering the summer slow season. However, here it comes on the back of an 11% jump from August to September, so some of the loss is just a correction from that anomalously good month.
  • Michigan’s year-to-date total iGaming GGR is now $1.57 billion, 2.1% below the $1.60 billion Bonus forecasted through ten months.
  • DraftKings, Caesars, WynnBet, and FireKeepers Casino all saw double-digit percentage losses in daily average revenue in October. Smaller operators like Barstool, SI Casino, and PointsBet were the market share winners for the month.

    Connecticut

    • Connecticut online casinos won $36.5 million in October 2023, equating to a 35.5% annual growth rate. That’s a significant drop from 54.9% in September but in keeping with the state’s growth rate over the summer.
    • The daily average revenue fell to $1.2 million, down 6.2%. Like Michigan, however, this appears to be a correction from an abnormally hot run in the preceding months. Connecticut posted double-digit percentages for its monthly growth rate in August and September.
    • Connecticut’s year-to-date total iGaming GGR is now $323.5 million, still 7.9% ahead of the Bonus projection and likely to come in just shy of $400 million by the end of the year.
    • With its online gambling market now entering its third year, Connecticut has reached the point when the rules for operators’ promotional tax deductions have changed. Previously, DraftKings and Mohegan Casino could each deduct up to 20% of their gross revenue for bonuses paid out to customers. That has now dropped to 15%. Mohegan immediately dropped its spending from 19% to 14%, while DraftKings continued spending 19%, exceeding its maximum deduction.

    Delaware

    • Delaware’s lottery monopoly generated $982,989 in revenue from its three online casino brands in October 2023, dipping below the $1 million mark for the first time this year. The market now sits 18% below where it was last year, the only state ever to have experienced an annual drop.
    • The daily average revenue was $31,709, down 14.2% from September.
    • Operations are winding down for 888 as the lottery’s online casino partner. Rush Street Interactive was supposed to replace 888 by Nov. 1, but that hasn’t happened yet. RSI now says it will take over in “early winter.”

    US Online Gambling Revenue Summary Table

    StateGGR - September 2023Monthly ChangeAnnual Change
    Pennsylvania$186,947,800-3.4%+23.2%
    New Jersey$166,799,064-1.5%+13.3%
    Michigan$160,273,835-6.8%+13.7%
    Connecticut$36,456,837-6.2%+35.5%
    West Virginia$15,886,208+20.9%+48.1%
    Delaware$982,989-14.2%-18.0%
    US Total$567,346,733-3.5%+18.5%

    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.
    • 2023 online gambling revenue projections are original calculations performed by News Managing Editor Alex Weldon on behalf of Bonus. Please cite Bonus 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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    About the Author

    Alex Weldon

    Alex Weldon

    Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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