With April Gains, Outlook For PA Slots Starts To Looks Less Bleak

The PA Gaming Control Board slot machine revenue figures for April show a total take of $206,178,528, around $15 million less than March. But while it may seem like a big drop in comparison, the nine-figure chunk represents a .23% year-over-year gain.
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To the great surprise of many industry watchers, Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos posted an absolutely blockbuster slot machine revenue tally in March. The massive and unusual spike, coupled with a healthy table game take, gave PA casinos their best month ever, breaking the state industry all-time record.

With slots breaking out of their slump in such a big way, it was anyone’s guess if the trend would spill over to the following month.

Today, the PA Gaming Control Board posted slot machine revenue figures for April, which show a total take of $206,178,528, around $15 million less than March. But while it may seem like a big drop in comparison, the nine-figure chunk represents a .23% year-over-year gain, something that should raise operators’ spirits, especially when taking the dismal last two years into account.

Winners and losers

As usual, Parx proved dominant in the space, raking in $35,633,140, around $9 million more than Sands, its closest competitor. Not only did Parx top the list, it also posted a healthy 6% Y/Y revenue bump.

Sands, which is set to be sold to Wind Creek Hospitality sometime later this year, took second place with $26,118,869. Compared with the same time period last year, the take is somewhat mediocre, representing a 1% decline.

Rivers Casino was right on Sands’ heels with its $23,998,042 March score. The property came in around $3 million short of its March total, but can take solace in the 4% Y/Y gain that its impressive April numbers represent.

While not nearly on the same level as the state’s top earners, a few of the smaller operators came through with big performances last month.

Category 3 resort casino Valley Forge banked just over $8 million and enjoyed a 9% year-over-year revenue bump. Presque Isle Downs also flourished, taking in over $10 million for a 7% Y/Y increase.

While eight of the state’s 12 casinos experience losses compared with 2017, Lady Luck and The Meadows have the unfortunate distinction of losing the most ground. Lady Luck, already traditionally the lowest earning casino of the bunch, posted an 11% Y/Y loss, while the Meadows took an 8% hit.

Resurgence of PA slots?

Almost out of the blue, PA gamblers flocked to play slot machines on an unprecedented level during the month of March. Revenue for the vertical totaled $221,350,220 for the month, which was a whopping 17% gain from the previous month and a 5.41% increase over 2017.

The big number was unexpected, to say the least, when taking into account the poor industry start to 2018, along with nearly two years of mostly Y/Y losses. In fact, PA slots took solid year-on-year decreases from October 2016 to August 2017 straight.

But may there be some light at the end of the tunnel. The following month the vertical saw growth, as it has in five of the last eight months. What’s more, the recent numbers might have looked even better had inclement weather not depressed turnout at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, table game revenue has been growing at an impressive and steady clip over the last two years. The historical decrease in slots and the table game surge initially led us to believe that players have begun to shy away from slots and instead have begun favoring new formats.

However, if PA casinos continue posting impressive slot numbers, as they have over the last six months, the industry might be experiencing overall growth, not just gamblers switching from one game to another.

Good news for online gaming

Total market growth would be positive news and an encouraging sign for operators on the fence about dropping millions to buy an online casino license. Last month, the state began accepting licensing applications from brick-and-mortar casinos interested in opening their own iGaming sites. The cost to do so is not trivial ($10-$12 million) and will likely lead some of the state’s smaller operators to sit things out.

Unfortunately it will be exceedingly difficult to make money on online slot machines alone, due to the aggressive 54% cut regulators will take in taxes from the vertical.

Even so, the New Jersey Internet gambling market has proven that there is a large appetite for online gaming, and PA operators which roll out a solid product will be well positioned to make a profit.

Total April 2018 slot revenue

CasinoApril 2018 Slot RevenueApril 2017 Slot RevenueChange %
Parx Casino$35,633,140.42$33,604,058.086.04%
Sands Bethlehem$26,118,869.36$26,385,356.77-1.01%
Rivers Casino$23,998,042.62$23,004,351.494.32%
Hollywood Casino$18,589,692.35$18,956,449.83-1.93%
The Meadows Casino$17,747,231.61$19,366,050.98-8.36%
Harrah's Philadelphia$17,628,809.46$18,183,322.50-3.05%
Mohegan Sun Pocono$17,548,983.38$18,177,124.86-3.46%
SugarHouse Casino$15,657,907.11$15,800,770.46-0.90%
Mount Airy Casino Resort$12,646,470.36$12,697,643.00-0.40%
Presque Isle Downs$10,223,710.10$9,535,652.247.22%
Valley Forge Casino Resort$8,071,088.58$7,400,081.979.07%
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin$2,314,582.17$2,591,889.93-10.70%
Total$206,178,527.52$205,702,752.110.23%
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