Pennsylvania is home to the second largest land-based casino industry in the United States, trailing only Nevada’s. Revenue data released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board shows that the industry has generated more than $3 billion annually every year since 2011.
That’s quite the remarkable feat, considering casinos didn’t take their first table games wagers until 2010.
On this page, we present the PGCB’s data in an easy to digest format, and provide supplementary commentary focused on short- and long-term market trends.
PA land-based gambling revenue for October 2017
October was a relatively pedestrian month for Pennsylvania’s land-based industry, with year-on-year revenue dropping 0.41% to $261,944,184. On the bright side, table game revenue was up 9.9%, marking the vertical’s eighth consecutive month of year-on-year growth.
But after a one month reprieve, slots revenue was down 1.2%. It was the ninth time in the first ten months of 2017 that slots stumbled. That being said, most of the year-on-year declines have been modest, and overall, slots revenue is only down 1.4% for the year.
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Pennsylvania casinos produced their fourth lowest revenue tally of the year in October, compared to last year when October was the industry’s sixth best month.
Table games accounted for 27.65% of total revenue, which is about on par with the yearly prevalence of 27.4%.
In terms of market share, October was like most other months in 2017, with Parx Casino leading the way, followed closely by Sands. Parx generated $45.3 mm last month, good for a 17.3% share of the market, while Sands once again dominated table game revenue (27.74% market share) en route to a 16.8% total market share.
The two Rush Street Gaming properties came in third and fourth, with Rivers Casino holding a 10.2% market share, and SugarHouse Casino a 9.0% share. Both casinos came up short of their annual average market share by 0.1%.
Both Mount Airy and Meadows had exceptionally good months, with the former capturing a 6.6% share (6.2% annual average), and Meadows an 8.2% share (7.8% average for 2017). On the flip side, Harrah’s Philly and Mohegan Sun struggled, with market share down slightly compared to their 2017 averages.
All-time PA online gambling revenue
Pennsylvania is currently on tap to just eek out last year’s record breaking revenue performance. That said, revenue has been mostly stable since the first full year table games were permitted, 2011.
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Couple of interesting observations here:
- While total industry revenue has been relatively static, table game revenues have not. Since 2011, there’s only been one year when revenue from felt, and now stadium, games has risen less than 5.5%. In 2017, table games are on target for a more modest 4.17% gain.
- Slot revenue peaked in 2013 at $2.47 billion, and looked to have stabilized in the $2.35 billion range by 2016. However, due to the poor relative performance of slots in 2017, the stabilization point might be lower than initially expected.
These two multi-year trends — the decline of slot revenue and increase in table game prevalence — do not surprise. Pennsylvania is subject to an otherworldly 54% tax rate on slots, compared to just 16% on table games, so it’s little wonder why operators are choosing to focus more casino floor real estate and marketing spend to table games.
This is no greater evidenced than the recent proliferation of live action terminal table gaming. In August, Sands expanded its stadium style gaming to include a $5 blackjack arena. And just recently, Rivers announced its intention to add the Rush Table Zone, enabling players to play their favorite table games against a live dealer, but from a computer terminal.
We expect table gaming to encompass an even greater percentage of gross gaming revenue in subsequent years.
PA land-based casino industry outlook
November is generally a down month for Pennsylvania casinos, with month-over-month revenue dipping 4.6% in November 2015, and 5.1% last year. There’s little reason to suspect this November will be any different, as it had just eight weekend days.
Looking ahead, it might not be too long before PA receives a serious revenue infusion, thanks to the imminent launch of up to 10 satellite casinos in the state. While these smaller casinos (capped at 750 slot machines and 30 table games) could cannibalize some existing traffic, the threat is minimal, as by law they must be located at least 25 miles from an existing venue. As such, population centers where casino gaming is currently unavailable could suddenly see a lot of gambling activity.
2018 should also see the first online casino and poker sites launch. Online gambling has proven a boon in New Jersey, both in its own right and as a driver of brick & mortar traffic. In some ways, Pennsylvania is even better positioned than New Jersey was at launch to support a successful industry, but the oppressive 54% tax rate on slots and the high licensing fees could prove very damaging.