2017 was a frustrating year for slot operators, but this year things have been looking up. Last month, PA’s 12 casinos combined for a total of $201,729,431 in slot gaming revenue, a solid 4.42% year-over-year increase.
The August Y/Y gain is not far off from the 5.41% slot increase casinos experienced back in March, when total gaming revenue eclipsed $300 million, an all-time state record.
This year, Commonwealth casinos have banked just over $1.6 billion in slot machine proceeds, around $20 million more than what they raked in during the first eight months of 2017.
Winners and losers
Unsurprisingly, Parx Casino led the pack in terms of overall slot revenue, taking in $34,788,328, a very healthy 8.57% year-on-year increase.
Parx hopes to be a major player when expanded gambling verticals go live later this year. The company was the first in line to apply for a $10 million iGaming license, and was the second to snap up a sports betting license, for an additional $10 million payment.
Sands Bethlehem’s slot take was nearly $9 million behind Parx ($25,752,583), a 2.48% Y/Y gain.
The Rivers, sister casino of SugarHouse, took the third spot with $23,578,312, a 6.29% increase over August 2017.
Valley Forge, one of the state’s two category 3 resort casinos, continued its hot streak last month with another stellar performance. The venue boasted a slot win of $7,625,062, a whopping 13.94% gain over the previous year. What’s more, in July, it beat its Y/Y total by 5%, and smashed its year-over-year total in June by 18.15%.
The facility has benefited tremendously from a change permitted by the gambling package passed last year, which allows resort casinos to open up their gaming floors to non-hotel guests. Of course, PA didn’t relax the law without charging for the pleasure. Valley Forge paid a $1 million fee to the state for authorization to make the change, an investment which has been paying off handsomely.
Lady Luck Nemacolin, the other resort-classified casino, has not paid the fee, something it might want to consider, being that it consistently ranks as the lowest earning casino in the state.
PA comes out a winner
PA levies a huge 54% tax on slot revenue, which, for the month of August, comes out to over $105 million. However, the state has also been earning money hand over fist through licensing fees alone from casinos hoping to offer online gambling and sports betting.
While neither vertical has gone live, the Commonwealth has filled its coffers with over $258 million from operators hoping to take advantage of the new expanded gambling options. Check out the totals below:
- Five satellite casinos: $127 million
- Nine online gambling licenses: $110 million
- Two sports betting licenses: $20 million
- DFS licenses and resort casino expansion: $1.5 million
And the sports betting frenzy has just begun. We fully expect several other casinos to apply for sports wagering licenses, which will pump up the state’s take even higher.
Will sports betting increase slot play?
PA’s new gambling reality allows for slot operators to purchase sports betting licenses at a price of $10 million. Those that qualify may offer brick-and-mortar sportsbooks (even at a temporary facility), and launch sports betting websites and mobile apps.
While the bulk of sports wagering will likely happen through smartphones and online sites, sportsbooks located inside PA casinos will conceivably serve as an attractive draw for locals. With more bodies in the casino, it’s certainly possible that patrons would wander out of the book and onto the gaming floor and try their luck at the bevy of slot machines on offer in between games.
The increased foot traffic could certainly have a positive impact on brick-and-mortar slot gross gaming revenue, helping the vertical to shake off its 2017 slump.
August 2018 slot revenue