Nearly Two-Thirds of Pennsylvania’s Adult Population Gambled in 2022-23

According to a Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming report prepared by Penn State University, over two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s adult population participated in some form of gambling in the fiscal year from September 2022 to June 2023. The report brought out some contrary opinions, including data that suggested that offline gambling was far more popular than online gambling. 

Based on the sample size of data, 62.5% of the state’s adult population engaged in offline gambling, while 16% gambled online. The smaller subset of data reflected that almost half of the population (48.7%) gambled exclusively offline, while only 2.3% gambled exclusively online, and 13.7% of the sample size participated in both offline and online gambling. The lottery was the most popular offline format for gambling participants, and sports betting was the most used online.

Interestingly, the report also included data regarding illegal online gambling. More than 3% participated in some form of illegal online gambling in the last fiscal year, with 2.1% additionally engaging in unregulated online gambling.

Gambling Problems Increase

Gaming revenue increased significantly in the fiscal year 2022-2023, with more than $2.1 billion in revenue, representing a 27% increase from the fiscal year 2021-22. However, gambling-related problems also increased substantially in the state.

Calls to the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline regarding online gambling issues represented 34% of the call volume, up from 20% in the preceding period in 2021-2022. The report also suggested that the accuracy of reporting of this data improved over time, including access to data from online gambling, which was not prevalent in the pre-PASPA era. 

According to the report, “among those that gambled at least once a month on any gambling format, dual-mode gamblers were the most likely (50.7%) to present with at least one problem gambling indicator on the Brief Problem Gambling Screen (BPGS) followed by online-exclusive gamblers (40.7%), and then offline-exclusive gamblers (16.4%).”

The report included characteristics that could predict if an individual may have a gambling problem, including gambling more frequently, a preference to gamble alone, being a member of a loyalty program, or higher than average monthly expenses on gambling.

Related Pages: Pennsylvania Sports Betting | Responsible Gambling | Sports Betting Revenue

Demographic of Pennsylvania Gamblers

The average age of online gambling participants was slightly over 33 years old. Of that population, 76.9% identified as men, 65.7% were single, and over 60% were employed. Additionally, 43.8% of the main gambling population had secured a bachelor’s degree or higher, and close to 40% had a household income of $50,000 or less annually.

In stark comparison, the average age of offline gambling participants was significantly higher, at over 52 years old. Almost half (495) were single and never previously married, and 57.4% were employed during the analysis period. Almost 40% of this offline-exclusive demographic had received a bachelor’s degree or higher, and a little over 30% earned a household income of $50,000 or less annually.

In summary, the report stated that both online-exclusive and dual-mode gamblers were younger than those who gambled offline exclusively. There was a gender difference, with more men indicating they were online-exclusive and dual-mode gamblers.

Race diversity was highest in the online-exclusive category, with the highest proportion of individuals identified as Asian only (16.9%). Dual-mode gamblers had the lowest proportion of individuals who were single and never married. Offline-exclusive gamblers had the highest proportion of retired individuals (26.6%).

Winning Money is the Primary Motivator of Gambling

The most common reason for online-exclusive (31.7%) and offline-exclusive participants (36.8%) was to win money. However, more than 40% of dual-mode gamblers suggested that the primary motivator was the excitement and entertainment of gambling.

“Examining the importance of gambling as a leisure activity to gamblers, approximately two-thirds (62.8%) of online-exclusive gamblers and the overwhelming majority of offline-exclusive gamblers believed that gambling was not at all important to them (80.4%) also indicated this,” the report stated.

“While less than half of dual-mode gamblers (49.9%) believed that it was not at all important, dual-mode gamblers were the most likely to report that gambling was important to them as a leisure activity (17.1%).”

About 6.5% of the online-exclusive category suggested that relieving stress was the primary reason for gambling. That reason was the same for about 5.6% of the dual-mode category and 1.9% for the offline-exclusive gambling population.

Report Suggests Targeted Education on Gambling Risks

With increased participation, the report suggested that people engaged in gambling in both online and offline formats needed targeted education on the risks of gambling. Pennsylvania’s adult population participating in online gambling was consistent at 11.1% in 2021 and 11% in 2022, but increased to 16% in 2023 due to the ease of access to online gaming.

That represented a hierarchy of risk in gambling, with participants tending to keep gambling, including presenting traits that represent problem gambling indicators.

According to the summary, the report confirmed that gambling more frequently, higher spending, using it as a way to escape, and the younger betting audience may contribute to gamblers being classified as an at-risk or problem gambler. Messaging regarding responsible gambling, prevention, or treatment availability should consider these factors – in particular, those who gamble online (exclusively or offline as well) tend to have more presence of problem gambling indicators, so messaging via digital means would be able to target these individuals.


About the Author
Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro covers the sports betting industry and revenue reporting at Gaming Today. Much of his work analyzes state revenue information, including betting activity and revenue for individual states and sportsbook operators. In addition, Nikhil provides news updates on the gambling industry itself, including product launches and legal issues. Nikhil’s previous experience includes five years with ESPN.

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