Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar casinos raked in $189,056,195 in slot machine revenue in February, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The tally is a welcome rebound from the industry’s dismal January numbers, which were likely depressed by unseasonably cold temperatures and the appearance of a blizzard.
But while the $11.2 million month-on-month increase may seem a positive development, the total represents a disappointing 1.67% contraction compared with the same time period last year.
February’s lack of growth is not an outlier, and is part of a several-month long trend of sliding slot revenue, a possible indicator that interest in PA’s one-armed bandits may be waning.
Winners and losers
The casino will soon be earning slot machine profits from online patrons as well, when it opens its own online gaming site in the coming months.
Sands Bethlehem came in a distant second with $23,873,376, making nearly $1 million more than it did the previous month, but taking a 6% Y/Y hit.
Rivers, with its 2,900 slot machines, was right on Sands’ heels with a $22,598,530 take, around $500,000 less than it made during February 2017. Rivers will likely be a major player when online gambling goes live later this year, due to its association with Rush Street Gaming, which already operates a successful iGaming site in New Jersey.
Already the lowest earner of the bunch, Nemacolin was also the biggest year-on-year loser. The resort banked $2,256,981 in February, a modest bump from last month, but a 14% decrease over the same period last year.
Are PA gamblers losing interest in slots?
While slot machine revenue spiked briefly in November and December, it has seemingly already resumed its downward trajectory. Indeed, since August 2016, there have only been four months in which the vertical has seen year-over-year gains.
One possible reason players might be giving the cold shoulder to slots are the unfavorable return to player percentages offered by PA machines. A crushing 54% tax levied on slots has led operators to offer titles with less-than-desirable odds for customers, which usually hover around 89%. At that rate, even the least-discerning players can’t help but notice that their wins come less and less frequently.
Instead, players have been gravitating more towards table games, many of which afford the house a much smaller edge.
The lure of the stadium table gaming format is another likely factor, pulling in players who might have originally preferred traditional slot machines.
Unlike slots, table game revenue has been on a hot streak, beating out its year-on-year totals in 10 of the last 11 months. Table games have essentially plugged the hole left by the loss in slot revenue, and helped the state’s casinos top their all-time record last year.
Total February 2018 Slot Revenue