PA slot operators ended the year with a bang, raking in $202.8 million last month, a hefty 8% spike compared with December 2017.
The haul puts Pennsylvania slot revenue at $2.37 billion total for the year, a $33.6 million increase (+1.44%) over last year.
Each of the state’s 12 casinos enjoyed year-over-year gains, with some of that extra action likely due to increased foot traffic stemming from the launch of sports betting at a handful of properties.
Top-level December slot revenue break down
- December slots : $202,840,435
- Y/Y change: +8.12%
- M/M change: +10.8%
- 2018 total: $2,369,885,204
- Total Y/Y change: +1.44%
- YTD tax revenue: $1,235,872,531
Valley Forge crushes
Valley Forge hasn’t yet launched a sportsbook, but has benefited significantly from a provision in the bill which legalized the vertical in 2017. For the price of $1 million, the property was awarded authorization to allow not only hotel guests, but non-guests into the casino at no extra charge.
The decision has been a boon for the property, which posted an $8.4 million win in December. The 18% Y/Y spike was greater than any other Pennsylvania casino experienced last month.
Since opening up its casino floor to non-hotel patrons, Valley Forge revenue is up nearly 10% compared to the same timeframe the previous year.
Valley Forge was recently acquired by Boyd Gaming, which plans to open its own live and online sportsbook in partnership with FanDuel sometime in the first half of 2019.
The property’s rival resort casino, Lady Luck Nemacolin, has so far decided to forgo paying the seven-figure fee to open up its own casino floor to the general public. With slot revenue dwindling at the venue, and with Valley Forge’s success on full display, it’s perplexing why the property has not yet ponied up the cash.
Sportsbook casinos all see significant slot gains
While seven casinos have put in applications to offer sports betting, only three (Penn National, Rivers and SugarHouse) have so far opened for business.
With all the hype surrounding sports betting, casino sportsbooks have had the effect of drawing in new patrons from a younger demographic. Operators are hoping that the newcomers will not only bet on their favorite sports teams, but slide a few bills into nearby slot machines while they’re at it.
While we can’t be sure that sports betting is the cause, Penn National, the first PA casino to debut a sportsbook has seen its slots fortunes increase since launch. In November, after enduring several months of losses, the casino’s slot take was essentially flat. In December, however, slot win jumped up by 9%, a percentage gain not seen for more than a year.
Rivers and SugarHouse, both owned by Rush Street Gaming, launched simultaneously in mid-December. While we are only working with two weeks of data, slot figures are already showing positive signs. Rivers took in $25.8 million in slot revenue last month, a hefty 12% Y/Y increase. SugarHouse, for its part, raked in $15 million at the machines for a 5.6% Y/Y bump.
At this early stage, it’s hard to know if sports betting is playing a contributing factor. But operators, which pay through the nose (36% tax rate, $10 million licensing fee) for the pleasure of operating sportsbooks, would be happy to funnel players over to casino games that yield higher profit margins.
Other big winners
The top three winners in terms of year-over-year gains were Valley Forge, Presque Isle Downs, and Rivers, which saw increases of 18%, 17.5%, and 12% respectively.
In terms of sheer revenue, Parx Casino, Rivers and Sands took the top three spots, banking $35.4 million, $25.83 million dollars and $25.81 million. Sands usually claims that number two spot, but in recent months has seen its revenue slide a bit, with Rivers making a bit more than its rival in December and November. As Wind Creek Hospitality prepares to acquire the Sheldon Adelson-owned casino, it will be interesting to see if revenue continues to slip there.
The other big winner this year is the state, which took in a whopping $1.2 billion in slot machine tax revenue from total gross gaming revenues of $2.37 billion. The state’s 25,000+ slot machines are taxed at a massive 54% rate and are crucial moneymakers for the government.
Total December slot revenue figures