Lady Luck’s Decision Not To Open Its Doors To Outside Gamblers Costs It Big In September

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Several PA casinos took substantial hits in terms of table game revenue in September, dropping the total take to $72,310,210 – what amounts to a 4.36% year-over-year decrease.

With slot revenue ($196,209,618) included into the mix, Keystone State casinos banked $268,519,828 last month, around 1% less than they did over the same time period in 2017.

Lady Luck, why the hesitation?

At this point, Lady Luck Nemacolin, a resort gambling venue which will soon be under the control of Churchill Downs, might seriously consider paying the $1 million fee to open up its casino to outside gamblers.

A stipulation in the state expanded gambling law passed last year allowed both Lady Luck and Valley Forge to open up their gaming floors to non-guests, something which Valley Forge has taken advantage of, but Lady Luck has not.

Last month, Lady Luck took the biggest year-on-year percentage loss on table games (a whopping 50%), locking in just $225,390 compared with the $457,523 it profited in September 2017. Slot revenue was also down during the month, although only slightly (-1.04%).

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Ever since the law’s new provisions went live in November, Lady Luck’s slots and table games take has dropped by $1.4 million Y/Y, from $31.45 million to $30.03 million (-4.71%).

On the other hand, we can see just how beneficial opening up its doors to the general public has been for rival Valley Forge.

The Boyd Gaming-owned casino immediately paid up the seven-figure all-access fee, and began welcoming outside visitors on November 1.

Since that time, the casino’s fortunes have changed dramatically for the better. From November to September in 2016-2017, the casino-banked $105.36 million, while over the same time frame in 2017-2018 it took in $117.16 million. By allowing non-hotel guests to gamble, the resort increased its slot revenue by $6.7 million and table game revenue by $5.1 million (+11.2% total Y/Y).

With Lady Luck soon to be managed by the aggressive U.S. gaming outfit Churchill Downs, however, it is likely that it will soon follow Valley Forge’s lead.

Who else tanked?

Aside from Lady Luck, six other casinos took year-on-year table games losses. Mohegan Sun absorbed the second biggest hit, dropping 32.26% Y/Y with a total win of $2,723,767. Sands, The Meadows and Presque Isle Downs also took double-digit hits, dropping 18.8%, 18.4% and 16% respectively.

Table games are taxed at a modest 16%, while slots incur a staggering 54% tax. Therefore, the more casino operators can move players over to the tables, the more they can keep of what those gamblers lose.

Five of the casinos which saw Y/Y decreases last month have applied to offer virtual table games when the state goes live with online gambling sometime in the coming months. Lady Luck and The Meadows, were the only two not to throw their hats into the iGaming ring.

The winners

Not all the state’s 12 casinos had terrible luck at the tables last month. The Rivers, PA’s third highest-earning casino, saw an 18% increase in table game play, for a win of $6,775,918. SugarHouse, sister casino of the Rivers, also had a very solid month, raking in $10,983,899 at the tables for a 16.75% Y/Y increase.

Valley Forge and Mount Airy also saw double-digit percentage gains during the month, making 12.76% and 12.43% more than they did during September 2017.

PA casinos up slightly for the year

To date, PA’s gambling venues have earned just a hair above what they did up through September 2017, banking $2.464 billion compared with $2.447 billion last year (+0.66% Y/Y)

Interestingly, momentum this year seems to have shifted from table games, which had a stellar year in 2017, back to slots, which suffered greatly last year, but have seemingly regain some of their popularity.

Operators have enjoyed slot machine growth in six of nine months of the year, and would likely have seen even more if inclement weather hadn’t kept gamblers home in January and February. On the flipside, gambling venues have combined for table game losses in six months of 2018.

When online gambling goes live, expect to see operators focus heavily on the table games vertical, in the hopes of avoiding the eye-watering taxes which will be applied to slot machine winnings.

PA total casino revenue September 2018

CasinoSlotsSlots Y/YTable GamesTable Games Y/YTotal Win
Parx$33,908,479.274.68%$15,277,0931.48%$49,185,572
Sands Bethlehem$24,210,274.55-2.45%$18,422,996-18.80%$42,633,271
The Rivers$22,995,461.202.04%$6,775,91818.00%$29,771,379
Meadows$17,655,715.43-0.27%$2,012,210-18.38%$19,667,925
Penn National$16,817,133.42-3.67%$2,752,552-3.54%$19,569,685
Harrah's$16,480,551.810.55%$4,741,643-8.31%$21,222,195
Mohegan Sun$16,192,546.58-3.30%$2,723,767-32.26%$18,916,314
SugarHouse$14,923,607.781.89%$10,983,89916.75%$25,907,507
Mount Airy$13,212,114.86-1.73%$4,349,51412.43%$17,561,629
Presque Isle$9,901,520.18-0.65%$980,552-16.04%$10,882,072
Valley Forge$7,386,452.289.56%$3,064,67612.76%$10,451,128
Nemacolin$2,525,760.54-1.04%$225,390-50.04%$2,751,151
Month Totals$196,209,6180.42%$72,310,210-4.36%$268,519,828

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Bill Grinstead

Bill has over a decade of experience working in diverse aspects of the online gambling space. He is currently focused on legal, US online gaming, which he has reported on since the industry first became regulated in the country.

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