Five Months Into the Year, PA Slot Revenue Nearly Reaches $1 Billion

Ladder to the sky

Revenue at Pennsylvania casinos showed a slight, but welcome increase in May, with operators taking in $203,993,259 total. The figure represents a .37% increase over the same time period last year and a 1.06% decrease over the previous month.

The sum doesn’t come close to the unprecedented $221,350,220 haul the state’s gaming venues raked in during a magical March, but it is still a positive sign for the vertical, which has mostly been trending downward for some time.

Winners and losers

Parx Casino led the way with a $35,708,089 take, a slight bump from its April total and a healthy 5% year-over-year increase. The casino also leads the way in yearly slot revenue, topping its competitors with $172,516,039 total.

Sands Bethlehem, which will soon be sold to Wind Creek Hospitality, the gaming arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, came in a distant second for the month. The venue added $27,009,310 to its coffers in May slot revenue, enjoying a 2% Y/Y increase.

Sands execs can rest a little easier this week, as its Category 2 casino license was renewed for a further five years after a recent review by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Rush Street Gaming-owned Rivers Casino also saw its fortunes increase by a 2% margin, banking $22,676,245 last month, some $4 million less than its superb $26.5 million March take.

Penn National had its own standout performance in March when it broke the $20 million barrier for the first time in years. While Hollywood Casino couldn’t keep up the pace in May, it still raked in a respectable $18,103,917 for the month.

Valley Forge, one of the state’s two resort-classified casinos shined last month, even though its total take is paltry compared to the competition. The casino posted $7,947,054 in revenue in May, giving it the biggest year-on-year increase of all of its competitors, a 12% spike. The state’s other resort, Nemacolin, took the biggest Y/Y hit, winning just $2,411,604, an 11% decrease over the same time period last year.

Presque Isle gains while Churchill Downs eye online gaming

Things have been moving rapidly in PA ever since the state legalized online gambling and sports betting last year. A number of casinos have already changed hands, with Presque Isle Downs being one of them. The Category 1 racino was sold to Churchill Downs earlier this year. The well-known horse racing and casino operator recently announced it would apply for a license to open up its own online casino and sportsbook through the property.

In May, the venue took in $9,940,269 at the slot machines for a 2% increase over the same timeframe last year. Presque Isle falls in the bottom three in terms of overall revenue this year, winning around $52.5 million in slots and table games total. With a strong brand like Churchill Downs propelling and marketing its online operation, however, the casino might punch above its weight in the virtual realm.

Reason for optimism five months in

Throughout the last half of 2016 and nearly all of 2017, slot machine revenue endured month after month of contractions. But things are now starting to look a little better for the vertical, which is taxed at a heart stopping 54%.

Five months into the year, state casinos have raked in $998,373,328 total in slot revenue. That represents a $7 million increase over the same time in 2017 and is close to matching the $1.01 billion total generated in the first five months of 2016. In fact, if inclement weather hadn’t kept gamblers home during January and February, this year’s numbers would look even better.

We should begin to see another boost in slot revenue when PA online casinos get the green light to go live, probably sometime later this year. The question is, how much? Slot machines are by far the biggest revenue drivers at iGaming sites, representing a much bigger slice of the pie than table games. Unfortunately the state has, in its wisdom, decided to tax virtual slots at the same exceedingly high rate as its land-based casinos, a move that will certainly hinder the potential growth of the industry.

May 2018 slot revenue

Sands Bethlehem$27,009,310.35
The Rivers$22,676,245.11
Penn National$18,103,917.80
Mohegan Sun$17,436,510.90
Mount Airy$12,609,468.23
Presque Isle$9,940,269.55
Valley Forge$7,947,054.14
Month Totals$203,993,259.02

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