PA Slot Revenue Unexpectedly Soars in March, But Will It Last?

After a dismal start to the year, slot machine revenue at Pennsylvania casinos absolutely exploded in March, soaring to $221,350,220, its highest level in years.
Eagle flying in the clouds at dawn

After a dismal start to the year, slot machine revenue at Pennsylvania casinos absolutely exploded in March, soaring to $221,350,220, its highest level in years. The total blows the previous month’s take out of the water, and represents a healthy 5.41% increase over the same time period in 2017.

Everyone’s a winner

While a big overall haul can sometimes be explained by the success of one or two casinos, each one of PA’s gambling venues gained ground compared to February, with all but two beating their Y/Y figures. The total month-on-month gain was an astounding 17.08%, although that can partly be attributed to the fewer days in the month.

The eye-popping figure is even more impressive when taking into consideration that there 407 fewer slots operating in the state in March than there were over the same timeframe last year, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Parx Casino topped the list of the biggest earners with $37,473,916, its biggest take in recent memory. The 9% year-on-year bump is nearly $7 million more than what it earned in January, when extreme weather hampered overall revenue.

Rivers, Penn National and Valley Forge also had reason to celebrate, each taking in more from their slot machines than they have in at least 30 months.

Valley Forge and Presque Isle Downs stood out in particular, even though they didn’t contribute a huge amount to the overall total. The two casinos upped their game considerably in March, posting 14% and 12% Y/Y gains respectively.

Even the two casinos that did not see year-over-year growth, Nemacolin and Mount Airy, still enjoyed significant gains over their February numbers.

Here are the top five earners for the month:

  1. Parx: $37,473,916.79
  2. Sands Bethlehem: $27,840,727.07
  3. Rivers: $26,595,999.42
  4. Penn National: $20,004,430.22
  5. The Meadows: $19,802,013.86

Is March an anomaly?

Looking at data over the past three years, it’s undeniable that players are shying away from slot machines, or choosing to gamble on table games instead. Indeed, the industry has only seen growth in four of the last 18 months.

2018 started off badly as well, with casinos losing 1.39% and 1.67% in January and February respectively. The January figure was especially disappointing, and was in fact the lowest month’s take the industry has seen in several years. We mainly attributed the contraction to cold weather which permeated the area at the time, likely keeping patrons from venturing out of their homes.

But the weather conditions weren’t much better in March either, leaving us to wonder what may have caused the spike. Either way, the $221,350,220 take will be a huge relief for the state’s 12 casinos, even if it does turn out to be an outlier.

We might be snapped back to reality in April however – slots could very well continue their downward trend, while table games like blackjack and craps reap the benefit.

Slots rack up over half-a-billion in 2018

So far this year, the state’s slot machines have banked $588,201,542 in revenue, with Parx alone contributing nearly 20% of that amount. Slots, which are taxed at an astronomical 54%, are by far the biggest moneymaker for the state.

Table games have recently seen a surge in popularity, but represent just $144,790,079 of the $732,991,621 total PA casinos have earned in gross gaming revenue this year.

Total slot revenue March 2018

Sands Bethlehem$27,840,727.07
The Rivers$26,595,999.42
Penn National$20,004,430.22
Mohegan Sun$19,144,830.70
Mount Airy$11,953,039.52
Presque Isle$10,587,202.26
Valley Forge$8,253,299.18
March Totals$221,350,220.10

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