January 26, 2022 4 min read


Survey Says Pennsylvania Has More Than 1M Gamblers

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and the Penn State University released a new report on Friday, looking into the rate of gambling participation in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania has embraced gambling in all of its variety, from sports to casinos, poker, and racetracks.

This has created a unique ecosystem in which people have found interactive gambling – the most popular activity among gambling adults – to be highly accessible and within reach. The preeminence of regulated gambling options has helped largely uproot illegal gambling operations, with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board keeping watch over various offenses.

The industry in Pennsylvania is sizeable. There are 17 online casinos in the state, along with 13 sports betting platforms. This doesn’t include the opportunities to play lottery games and fantasy sports. Pennsylvania generated some $1.1 billion in revenue in 2021 from online casinos and another $340 million from sports gambling. Some 90% came from online platforms out of the sports betting revenue. 

Looking into Gamblers, Their Preferred Activity and Mode of Gaming 

Now, the survey sheds more light on gambling habits and participation rates. The survey was conducted between December 2020 and June 2021 and interviewed 1,158 Pennsylvanians aged 18 or older. 

The survey found that 11.1% of the respondents had engaged in interactive gamin in the 12 months leading up to the survey. Sports betting remained the most popular activity, with 47% of all gamblers picking up this segment over another. 

Some 44.6% of respondents also answered with “yes” to at least one of the questions in a five-question series that was designed to establish whether they exhibited some form of distress brought on by gambling. 

The survey specifically looked into any link between the hobby and problem gambling. The study did not go into much detail about what the current rate of problem gamblers in the state is. Based on the survey’s numbers, there must be at least one million gamblers in the Keystone State relying on extrapolation from the general population.

The survey is part of the broader regulatory picture in the state. When legislation began gathering momentum in 2017, one of the prerequisites was to carry out studies that look into the exact rate of gambling participation in the Keystone State. 

The present results are encouraging as they have proven that the study presents actionable and valuable data sets. As a result, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will be looking to extend the program and commission more surveys in the years to follow.

Male Gamblers Still More Common Than Female Counterparts 

The survey understandably established that the overwhelming majority of gamblers were actually men. Some 67.8% of all participants who gamble in Pennsylvania are male, and the average age of gamblers, in general, is 38. Gamblers spend some $219 per week, which is the amount they actually risk, not what is won or lost. Some 43.9% of all gamblers have confirmed that they prefer to engage in online gaming, but another 45.9% of respondents confirmed that they also don’t mind making in-play purchases for lottery tickets, for example. 

The survey did take a look and presented some information about potential red flags insofar as problem gambling goes. Two of the five questions asked seemed to be the most answered in the affirmative.

Some 29.7% of respondents said “yes” to “Have you attempted to reduce, control, or stop gambling in the prior 12 months?” Another question that saw a high rate of positive answers – with 22.9% of participants – was “Have you gambled longer, or with more money or frequency than intended?” 

These numbers do not offer too much insight into the prevalence of gambling, but they create some basic framework as to how gambling addiction begins – with a series of unintended/not planned decisions that snowball.

Glenn Sterner, the assistant professor of criminal justice who helped with the study, now hopes that the surveys may continue by increasing the number of participants to get more accurate data on an annual basis. 


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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