Pennsylvania casino gambling revenue dropped for the fifth straight month, the latest sign that all is not rosy for gaming in the Keystone state.

The top-line PA casino numbers

The numbers weren’t great for almost any casino in the state, for both table games and slot machines.

Total gaming revenue in February dropped almost $10 million ($268.4 million to $258.6 million) from the same month last year, a decrease of 3.6 percent. Only two of the state’s 12 casinos saw growth from last year:

PA gaming revenue feb 2017

The trend for PA casinos

Of course 2016 was a leap year, as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board noted, with an extra day in February. Some of the revenue drop can be attributed to that. But the months in both years had the same number of weekends, when casinos generate most of their revenue.

Even if the missing day was the problem for some of the revenue drop, at best the numbers show a slight contracting — or at best plateauing — market

February was not even the worst year-on-year drop in recent months. Here’s a look at the previous six months for total gaming revenue:

  • August 2016 – $260.9 million (-4.3%)
  • September 2016 – $260.9 million (+2.9%)
  • October 2016 – $263.0 million (-0.9%)
  • November 2016 – $249.6 million (-1.4%)
  • December 2016: $257.2 million (-4.6%)
  • January 2017: $255.9 million (-1.2%)

The more worrying part of the equation was that both table games and slots were down in February. In some recent months, increasing table-game revenue has helped save the state from a more serious drop.

That was not the case in February, as even table revenue was down about three percent.

Winners and mostly losers in PA

The only casino throwing a party for its February numbers was likely Sands Bethlehem. Sands numbers were up about $1.5 million, or about 3.4 percent. That put it very close to No. 1 in revenue — currently held down by Parx Casino — which saw revenue drop about $2 million.

The increase for Sands is despite the fact that the parent company, Las Vegas Sands, appears to be plotting its exit from the PA market, attempting to sell the property to MGM Resorts International.

Category 3 casino Lady Luck Nemacolin was the only other casino to have a positive month, up more than seven percent.

Otherwise, it was a figurative bloodbath for PA casinos. Pretty much everyone else saw sizable decreases in revenue. The worst of those was SugarHouse, Mohegan Sun Pocono and Harrah’s Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia-area casinos in particular must be worried, as a fourth casino is likely to be built in the coming years.

Is help coming for PA casinos?

State lawmakers are in the middle of considering a number of gambling expansions in the state, some of which would help the bottom line of the casinos.

Chief among those are provisions for PA online casinos. The legalization of online gambling would help both in terms of raw revenue and with activating new or lapsed casino customers.

For now, however, casinos are left to fret over the fact that gambling numbers are on a consistent downward trend.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker

Having previously written for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among other publications, Dustin Gouker has been a sports writer for more than 15 years. He is an avid poker player who has also spent years covering the topics of poker, the casino industry, and the burgeoning DFS industry.