Revenues were down almost across the board: Table games, slots, individual operators, year-over-year, and month-over-month.
Adding insult to injury, the August decline put an end to a nearly year-long streak of growth.
From September 2015 to May 2016, Pennsylvania’s casino industry posted year-over-year revenue gains each and every month. The streak came to a semi-halt in June, after the industry posted a microscopic decline of .02 percent. July saw revenues back in the black, with revenue growth of 2.95 percent.
And then August happened.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, the declining revenue may help push a gambling expansion bill across the finish line. The latest numbers show the Pennsylvania casino industry isn’t immune to the cannibalization and receding revenue other jurisdictions are seeing.
The bill would, among other things, legalize PA online casinos and daily fantasy sports, and make some structural changes to Category 3 license holders that would allow them to increase their land-based gambling footprint.
The August numbers
The August revenue reports issued by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board puts total casino revenue at $260,904,471 in August. Table game revenue was down 3.7 percent YoY. Slot revenue was down 4.5 percent.
Eleven of the state’s 12 casinos saw revenue decline YoY (the only exception was SugarHouse Casino). Only a single casino, Valley Forge, posted a YoY increase in slot handle.
- August 2016 slot machine revenue: $193,949,366.66 (-4.47%)
- August 2016 table game revenue: $66,955,105 (-3.73%)
A look inside the YTD revenue numbers
Here is a look at the monthly year-to-date revenue tally for Pennsylvania’s casinos:
- January 2016 GGR -$255,905,078 (+3.6%)
- February 2016 GGR – $268,354,231 (+8.6%)
- March 2016 GGR – $289,167,505 (+4.2%)
- April 2016 GGR – $281,206,497 (+3.9%)
- May 2016 GGR – $280,194,999 (+.80%)
- June 2016 GGR – $258,423,105 (-0.2%)
- July 2016 GGR – $288,451,402 (+2.95%)
- August 2016 GGR – $260,904,471 (-4.28%)
Historical look at casino revenue in Pennsylvania
Despite the August setback, Pennsylvania is still on pace to have its best year to date. The previous high-water mark was set last year when the state’s casinos tallied $3.17 billion.
- 2006: $31,567,926
- 2007: $1,039,030,723
- 2008: $1,615,565,758
- 2009: $1,964,570,480
- 2010: $2,486,408,061 (table games introduced)
- 2011: $3,024,772,959
- 2012: $3,158,317,863
- 2013: $3,113,928,591
- 2014: $3,069,077,597
- 2015: $3,173,787,012
A casino by casino look at the numbers
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $24,788,628.16 (-2.8%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $19,334,469 (-1.02%)
Even though Sands Bethlehem experienced only modest declines in slot and table game revenue during one of the worst months in recent history, it was still enough to cede its tenuous position as the top revenue generating casino in Pennsylvania back to Parx.
As noted above, online gambling could soon be legalized in Pennsylvania. If the state does legalize online gambling Sands is expected to forego launching an online gambling site. That would likely mean Parx will be able to cement its place as the top revenue-generating casino in the state with the addition of a new revenue stream.
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $31,988,404.99 (-.28%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $12,938,984 (+.71%)
Parx not only eclipsed its rival Sands Bethlehem, but the casino managed to buck the downward trend, as revenue was virtually flat year-over-year.
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $14,030,492.80 (-.18%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $8,509,687 (+21.94%)
SugarHouse has been on a tear of late (thanks to a massive expansion project that the property wrapped up earlier this year). August was far from the property’s best month during this run from a numbers perspective. However, it could very well be its best month, considering SugarHouse was the only casino to post YoY gains in August.
Table games continue to be where SugarHouse hangs its hat, as the casino has clearly separated itself from all of the state’s casinos not named Parx and Sands when it comes to monthly table game revenue.
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $21,884,335.87 (-7.66%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $5,404,034 (-17.59%)
The Pittsburgh-based Rivers Casino continues to be the third-highest grossing casino in the state. Unlike its sister casino in Philadelphia, SugarHouse, (both properties are owned by Rush Street Gaming) Rivers is going in the wrong direction.
Rivers was down nearly 10 percent YoY, with both slot and table game revenues undergoing a significant decline.
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $16,265,982.01 (-8.99%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $5,757,736 (+10.25%)
All in all, August wasn’t too bad for Harrah’s, which is doubly important considering Harrah’s has been bearing the brunt of nearby SugarHouse’s gains.
Revenues slipped less than five percent YoY, and Harrah’s continues to run neck-and-neck with SugarHouse for the No. 4 spot on the state’s monthly revenue list.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $17,899,498.69 (-6.18%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $3,002,410 (-17.61%)
Mohegan Sun had a similar month to Rivers, as there’s little positive news for the casino in this month’s revenue reports.
Mount Airy Casino Resort
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $12,385,625.81 (-6.06%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $3,283,432 (-29.24%)
Once again, table game revenue at Mount Airy fell off a cliff. This trend has been going on for three months now, with table game revenue down 17 percent in June, 12 percent in July, and a whopping 29 percent in August.
Mount Airy was one of two casinos (Meadows being the other) that experienced a double digit decline in YoY revenue.
Valley Forge Casino Resort
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $6,526,640.14 (+2.89%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $2,792,677 (-8.14%)
Valley Forge is one of the few casinos that will likely be content with its August numbers. Revenue was virtually flat at the small casino, with a slight uptick in slot revenue offsetting the casino’s declining table game revenue.
In fact, Valley Forge was the only Pennsylvania casino that saw slot revenue increase YoY in August.
The Meadows Casino
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $18,323,551.37 (-5.7%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $1,625,299 (-46.77%)
Table game revenue was down significantly at a number of casinos in August, but nowhere near the drop-off Meadows saw. The nearly 50 percent drop in slot revenue YoY might be explained by a significant jackpot being hit.
Also of note, the PGCB recently approved the conversion of Meadows operator license from Washington Trotting Association to Pinnacle Entertainment. Pinnacle will take over day to day operation of the property, with WTA leasing the property to them.
Presque Isle Downs and Casino
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $10,217,083.27 (-4.34%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $1,167,941 (+11.59%)
Like most Pennsylvania casinos, Presque Isle saw its slot revenue drop significantly. Unlike most of the other casinos, Presque Isle was able to mitigate the slot decline with solid table game revenue numbers.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $16,976,162.84 (-7.06%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $2,786,057 (+12.16%)
Even a 12 percent increase in table game revenue was unable to put much of a dent in the declining slot revenue at Hollywood Casino of over seven percent — the third worst in the state in August. Overall, revenue dipped nearly five percent YoY for the storied racetrack and casino.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
- Slot revenue, June 2016: $2,662,960.71 (-5.95%)
- Table game revenue, June 2016: $352,378 (-29.91%)
Lady Luck is on the verge of falling below the $3 million mark in monthly revenue. The casino’s revenues often fluctuate due to its size and volume of play (making it a victim of variance) but Lady Luck’s table games and slot revenues took a bath in August.