For over four months, Rivers Casino has operated with almost no competition in Western Pennsylvania.
Situated in Pittsburgh, Rivers Casino is far away from the rest of the state’s casino sportsbook operators, who are centered in and around the Philadelphia area. For an overview of the Pennsylvania sports betting market, see here.
Competition for Rivers Casino is on the way, it just won’t be coming from within the Keystone State. The threats will come rather from out of state casino operators in next-door Ohio and West Virginia.
The operators of Rivers Casino, Rush Street Interactive (RSI) aren’t worried about the coming competition. For them, the most important thing is that they continue to do a great job focusing on providing a great experience for the customer. The rest should take care of itself.
Rivers Casino leads Pennsylvania in sports betting handle
Still, having a local monopoly doesn’t hurt, right?
Through February, Rivers Casino boasts the highest sportsbook handle in all of Pennsylvania. In terms of sports betting revenue, Rivers only trails its sister property, SugarHouse (located in Philadelphia), and only by less than $200,000.
Perhaps more impressively, Rivers Casino has (since December) accounted for more than 28% of PA casino’s overall sports betting handle. That’s a solid performance, since as one of PA’s eight currently operating sportsbooks, Rivers comprises only 12.5% of the state’s retail sportsbook locations.
Looking at it another way: Rivers Casino’s total sportsbook revenue of $2.55 million dwarfs the average Philadelphia casino sportsbook total of $854,000.
Clearly, Rivers is enjoying being the only game in town in Western PA.
Rivers and SugarHouse: two peas in a pod
Despite having such different competitive pressures, RSI runs the sportsbooks at both casinos ignoring such considerations. Sportsbook odds, lines, and pricing are identical at Rivers and SugarHouse, despite being in Pittsburgh (alone) and in Philly (surrounded by competitors) respectively.
Perhaps that’s a decision made to keep state regulators at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) happy. Perhaps it’s done to make matters simple for RSI sportsbook tech partner, the Kambi Group. Or perhaps its done to make things simple when the casinos will soon be rolling out mobile sports betting apps.
Whatever the reason, sports bettors at either Rivers or SugarHouse won’t see any differences in the odds.
Will Rivers be hurt by out-of-state competition?
Rivers Casino’s most direct sports betting competition won’t be coming from within Pennsylvania, but rather from outside the state.
South of Pittsburgh, West Virginia is on its eighth month of legalized sports betting. Within WV, the nearest brick and mortar casino to Pittsburgh is Mountaineer Casino, just an hour away by car.
More threatening is the prospect of mobile gaming being offered in WV. Residents of Western Pennsylvania would only need to drive to the WV state border to use their app. Two WV casinos had mobile sports betting up and running but the site(s) went down recently due to a tiff between casino owner and sportsbetting partner. Regardless, DraftKings and FanDuel are also operating in WV and will have their mobile betting platforms up and running very soon.
Perhaps most threatening of all, at least in the long run, to the west, Ohio is on the verge of authorizing sports betting within its borders in the next year or two. When it comes, mobile sports betting will come with it, posing the same competitive risks to Rivers as in WV.
Rivers Casino owner RSI isn’t talking about threats of competition but they don’t seem worried. They just keep plugging away and as stated earlier, they are the king of the sportsbook in Pennsylvania – especially Pittsburgh.