Online casino betting drove 153% more operator revenue and 339% more in tax revenue than sports betting last year in U.S. markets where both are legal, according to a recent analysis by PlayCanada.com, which tracks the fledgling Canadian gaming market. A similar revenue gap will likely be coming to Ontario, too, as the province prepares to open the market to private online sportsbooks and launch online casino gambling on April 4.
“Sports betting gets more attention, but it will be online casinos that deliver the truly eye-popping numbers,” said Robyn McNeil, lead analyst for PlayCanada.com. “In the U.S. states where online casino gambling has been legalized and regulated, online casino revenue dwarfs online sports betting revenue.”
Ontario plans to open to private online casino and sportsbook operators on April 4. That will make the province the sixth jurisdiction in Canada and the U.S. to legalize and regulate both online casino gaming and online sports betting, joining New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut in the United States.
When Ontario does launch, it can expect that online casinos will grab a much larger share in revenue.
In 2021, online casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia produced:
- (U.S.) $3.8 billion in gross operator revenue. By contrast, online sports betting operators produced (U.S.)$1.5 billion.
- (U.S.)$976.8 million in state and local tax revenue. Meanwhile, sportsbooks produced (U.S.)$222.4 million in state and local taxes.
The $3.8 billion in casino revenue in 2021 in those four states was more than the $3.6 billion in revenue that all U.S. online sportsbooks generated in the same year. Sports betting was legal in five times as many states last year.
Such a chasm is why operators known best for sports betting, including DraftKings and FanDuel, have joined other major North American brands, such as BetMGM, in investing heavily in their online casino products.
“Online casinos are not only more profitable than sportsbooks, but they are also less subject to the seasonal ebbs and flows that affect sports betting,” said Eric Ramsey, lead data analyst for the Play network of sites that includes PlayCanada.com and PlayOntario.com. “In the U.S., revenue from online casino betting has consistently grown month over month, and has done so for years in even the most established markets.”
Michigan, which allows online sportsbook operators to use promotional credits to offset their tax obligation, showed the greatest discrepancy in 2021. Michigan’s online casinos produced (U.S.)$1.3 billion in operator revenue, which was 281% more than the (U.S.)$292.2 million that sportsbooks generated. The online casino revenue led to a (U.S.)$279.3 million tax injection into state and local coffers, 2,364% more than the $11.3 million contribution from sportsbooks.
“The disparity in the U.S. between online casino and sportsbook revenue is instructive for Canadian regulators,” Ramsey said. “Regulators should take care in creating rules around these promotional credits, which have really sapped the tax potential from sportsbooks in some U.S. states like Michigan.”