PA Casino Revenue Hits Historic High In March, Even As Table Game Earnings Slip

Pennsylvania set a new revenue record in March, cracking the $300 million barrier for the first time in its 12-year history. Surprisingly, the record was set on the back of slot machine revenue, which had been mired in a long slump.
PA Land-Based Casino Revenue Reaches New High

PA casinos banked $79,165,792 in table game revenue in March, a 0.48% decrease over the same time period last year.

However, combined with an uncommonly large slot machine take of $221,350,220, the state’s gambling venues broke their all-time monthly revenue record, surpassing $300 million for the first time in the industry’s history.

Sands still the king

Sands Bethlehem, soon to be acquired by Wind Creek Hospitality, was the top earner in terms of table games, pulling in $18,929,892 total. But while it may have roundly beat out its competitors, its year-over-year performance was not nearly as impressive. In March 2017, the casino banked $21,364,994, over 11% more than it did last month.

Table games are Sands’ bread and butter, but it’s worth noting that Wind Creek has little experience in operating them. While the company already owns several gambling venues, it has not previously been licensed to offer games like blackjack, roulette and craps.

Wind Creek won’t take control of the casino until later this year at the earliest, so the disappointing March numbers can’t be attributed to any negligence on its part. However, it’s inexperience with the vertical could potentially cause problems when the venue changes hands, possibly leading to a decrease in revenue.

Parx’s new poker room picks up

Parx Casino grabbed the second spot, while at the same time presenting a rosier overall outlook.  The casino banked $17,161,316 for the month, boasting Y/Y growth of nearly 12%.

Parx celebrated the opening of its completely revamped, state-of-the-art poker room in January. As of February, the new digs hadn’t had much effect on the casino’s bottom line, but in March, earnings increased significantly ($1,726,498 total). The card room’s popular Big Stax tournament series ran during the month, another factor which likely increased overall earnings.

Rivers and Nemacolin shine

SugarHouse, and sister casino Rivers, followed Parx with table game wins of $10,790,438 and $6,950,173 respectively. Rivers stood out amongst its competitors with an impressive 17.8% Y/Y gain, the largest of the group.

One of the state’s smaller casinos, located at the Nemacolin Resort, also did exceptionally well, taking in nearly $500,000, a 17.7% bump over the same time period last year.

Trends reverse in March

March was an abnormal month at Pennsylvania casinos, with at least one long-term trend reversing.

Over the past year slot machine play has declined, while table games have continually gained in popularity. We naturally expected that trend to continue during the month, especially when taking into consideration the huge 11.24% spike in table game earnings in February. Yet that didn’t happen. Instead, after enduring month after month of Y/Y contractions, state casinos unexpectedly booked a massive slot machine win, their biggest in several years, in fact.

Table games, on the other hand, have been on a hot streak for the past year and a half. The vertical has seen growth nearly every month during that period, posting only a handful of Y/Y decreases. With slot machine numbers coming in so high for March, it’s somewhat of a surprise that table games didn’t see a comparable bump as well.

For slots to break out of their slump in such a big way, we assumed that overall turnout had increased during the month, and that table games would also see a benefit. The table game take, while still healthy, was essentially flat over March 2017, and not nearly as impressive as we had projected.

Even so, based on data over the past two years, it’s likely that the two verticals will continue on their current trajectories, with table games grabbing an increasing share of total revenue from slots.

Regulators rejoice

While the month may turn out to be an outlier, state regulators will certainly be happy with the distribution of revenue. Operators are forced to pay an eye watering 54% tax on slot machine winnings, while table games are taxed at a more reasonable 16%.

When patrons spend more at one armed bandits, the state reaps much more for its coffers.


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