Sands Bethlehem’s Underage Gambling Fines Now Eclipse $500,000

Once again, Sands Bethlehem is in hot water for another dozen or so underage gambling violations. The PA casino has paid over $500K in underage fines.

Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem took a hit to its bank account last week thanks to $230,000 in fines.

The Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board’s Office of Enforcement Council met and announced two separate fines. The fines were in response to both underage gaming violations ($120,000) and improper use of free slot play ($110,000).

The Meadows in Washington County also received a $12,500 fine for an underage gaming violation. In that instance, an 18-year-old male accessed the gaming floor, wagered at table games, and was served alcohol.

Sands Casino has frequent underage violations

Sands broke underage gambling laws 11 times in this most recent complaint.

The Allentown Morning Call reported that a patron used his older brother’s identification to enter the casino twice in one week. Both times he gambled at table games and consumed alcoholic beverages.

The Sands Casino has a lengthy history of underage fines. PGCB fined the venue $150,000 in July 2017 for 11 other underage violations. Since opening, the casino has racked up 10 separate penalties and more than $500,000 in fines for underage violations.

Significant measures taken to address underage gaming

While the violations and corresponding fines are alarming, Sands Vice President and General Counsel Michael Magazzu highlighted the casino’s numerous efforts to combat underage gaming.

According to the Morning Call, the casino implemented a state of the art identification system in 2017. It also utilizes a two-strike policy with its security staff.

Security personnel can’t accrue two strikes in a single year. As a result of the recent underage violations, some staff members received their second strike. As such, Sands terminated them for failing to enforce proper protocols.

Furthermore, Magazzu noted that Sands Casino had 8.6 million customers in 2018. Security asked for identification 831,000 times. Of those, 4,510 people were not allowed to enter. Furthermore, 69 false identifications (legitimate IDs belonging to someone else) were confiscated, as well as 29 fakes.

Thus, the protocols seem to work much more often than they fail.

PGCB officials also noted that the Sands Casino likely accrues more underage violations because it is attached to shopping outlets that attract minors.

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Second fine levied for slot play infractions

Sands Bethworks Gaming had to pay an additional $110,000 fine for improper use of free slot play. That fine resulted from employees issuing free slot play without proper authorization and also awarding free slot play amounts above the authorized levels.

According to the PGCB’s release “Free slot play is used to build and reward patron loyalty, and drive repeat visits from valuable customers who might otherwise patronize another facility.”

Last summer, PGCB fined Valley Forge Casino Resort  $50,000 fine for its own slot play violations.

PGCB requires casinos to impose limits on the amount of free slot play a venue can give away. Casinos are also required to limit the number of employees who can give away free slot play as well.

Sale of Sands Casino could prompt security review

Last March, the Las Vegas-based Sands Corp. announced its plans to sell the Bethlehem casino to Wind Creek Hospitality, an affiliate of the Alabama-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians, for $1.3 billion.

The Wind Creek group filed a change of ownership petition with the PGCB this February.

Once the sale becomes final, Wind Creek Hospitality plans a massive $190 million expansion. That expansion will include 300 new rooms and perhaps even an indoor water park. The casino will also be renamed Wind Creek Casino Resort.

Wind Creek might do a thorough security audit in an attempt to curb the problem with the ownership change.

Certainly, they would be happy to save some money in fines.

After Selling Sands Bethlehem, Adelson Out To Get Sands Bethlehem

Be it a push for a new Wire Act opinion or a proposed NYC casino, Sheldon Adelson is making life hard on the incoming Sands Bethlehem owners.

There is a reason Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire. He can be a ruthless businessman. His company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is proving that to be the case with its actions since selling Sands Bethlehem Casino for $1.3 billion.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians will soon be the owners of the Pennsylvania casino. The tribe’s company, Wind Creek Hospitality, took a big risk with the purchase. However, the property’s success and the chance to be a part of the PA online casino industry.

Now though, all that is in jeopardy. And Adelson and Sands are mostly to blame.

Sands lobbying for an NYC casino

Part of the reason Sands Bethlehem is one of the top-performing casinos in the state is its proximity to New York City. The Big Apple is just 86 miles away. That makes Sands Bethlehem just about the closest resort-style casino to the city.

Currently, there are no large casinos in the five boroughs. More than one casino company is trying to change that. Last week, representatives from both MGM and Sands met with New York lawmakers about an NYC casino project.

Adelson started the push for an NYC property late last year. In other words, once he sold his Pennsylvania casino, he began the push for a casino that would massively impact the customer traffic at that casino.

The NYC casino is far from a sure thing. Just six years ago, the state agreed to expand gambling with upstate commercial casinos.

All of those projects are financially floundering, so putting a casino in the city that would further negatively impact those properties is a tough sell. Especially when you consider that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position on gambling expansion is not to consider new projects that have a negative financial impact on existing ones.

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Thank Adelson for the new Wire Act opinion, too

The attack on Sands Bethlehem isn’t just limited to pillaging its New York customer base. Adelson is also purportedly behind the new interpretation of the Wire Act released in January.

A longtime crusader against online gambling, Adelson certainly appreciates the new DOJ interpretation of the gambling law. The new view casts such a wide net that just about any type of gaming that involves an internet connection is at risk.

This means the online gaming industry Poarch Band of Creek Indians bought its way into is suddenly at risk. The good news for the group is that the delays the Wire Act is causing on launch dates actually helps them more than hurts them.

Because the Sands Bethlehem sale is not final, Wind Creek cannot really move forward on its online gambling plans. Sands representatives appeared in order to apply for the casino’s interactive licenses before the deadline. That is about all the progress they have made.

In the short term, the delay will shorten the window between when competitors launch and Sands Bethlehem launches online. However, the broader view is that the potential ramifications for the entire industry could be disastrous.

Wind Creek still moving forward with PA casino plans

Lehigh Valley Live recently reported on Wind Creek’s plans for the Bethlehem property. The deal includes the sale of the outlet mall, events center, and some of the historical steelworks.

Additionally, one of the first projects is a $190 million expansion that includes 300 new rooms. Another idea floating around is an indoor water park.

Wind Creek remains committed to making the property a success. But they can’t be happy that the current owners seem committed to making the new owner’s life as difficult as possible.

For Most PA Casinos, Revenue Remains Steady As She Goes

When it comes to PA casino revenue, no news is good news, with September 2018 numbers holding steady at the 12 Pennsylvania gaming properties.

September marked another big month for most of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos.

According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) this week, casinos combined to post statewide total gaming revenues of $268,519,825 throughout the month. The number is down less than one percent from the September 2017 statewide total gaming revenue figure of $271,012,678.

September 2018 PA slot machine revenues are actually up 0.42 percent from the same month last year, hitting $196,209,617.90.

However, a decrease of 4.4 percent in table games revenue, from $75,615,712 in September 2017 to $72,310,207 last month, caused a slight statewide total gaming revenue dip.

The state collected $11,634,379 in tax revenue from table games and $102,279,882 in tax revenues from slots throughout the month.

PA’s 12 casinos operated 25,471 slot machines and 1,281 table games on a daily basis during September 2018.

Parx on top, Sands slipping

Parx continued to hold on to the title of top-grossing casino in the state. It posted $49,185,572 in total gaming revenue, up 3.66 percent from $47,447,881 in September 2017.

However, perennial second-place finisher Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem saw its numbers dip substantially. It held on to second place, but total gaming revenue figures dropped more than 10 percent from $47,506,731 in September 2017 to $42,633,271 last month.

Sands continued to post the biggest table game revenue numbers in the state, despite reporting an 18.8 drop from $22,688,379 in September 2017 to $18,422,996 last month. Its slot revenue numbers dropped 2.45 percent from $24,818,351.87 in September 2017 to $24,210,274.55.

Sands revenue numbers appear to have been falling since March 2018, when the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Wind Creek Hospitality announced it would be buying the property for $1.3 billion from Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The ascension of Valley Forge

Valley Forge Casino Resort posted the largest increase in September total gaming revenue. The $10,451,129 in total gaming revenue Valley Forge posted last month marked a 10.48 percent increase over the $9,459,888 it recorded in September 2017.

Valley Forge revenues have been climbing ever since it paid $1 million to the state to eliminate a $10 resort fee for customers at the end of 2017. Boyd Gaming Corporation also entered into an agreement to acquire Valley Forge Casino Resort in December 2017. The Las Vegas, Nevada-based gaming company finalized the $280.5 million deal in September.

PA casino gaming revenue numbers

Five of 12 casinos posted year-over-year gains in September. Here’s a look at the September 2018 total gaming revenue numbers and movement at all 12 casinos:

For most, the numbers are expected to climb substantially with the launch of PA sports betting and PA online casinos coming in the fourth quarter of 2018 or early 2019.

The following charts, courtesy of, display September 2018 PA market share numbers and a PA gaming revenue comparison:

Parx And Hollywood Clear PA Sports Betting Application Process

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board granted another group of online gambling licenses and the state’s first sports betting licenses at its Oct. 3 meeting.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) granted another group of PA online gambling licenses and the state’s first sports betting licenses at its Oct. 3 meeting.

The PGCB approved applications for a $10 million license to operate online slots, online table games, and online poker for both Valley Forge Casino Resort and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Sands lacks online gambling plan

The PGCB granted Sands a license despite its lack of a concrete online gambling plan. Owner Las Vegas Sands Corporation‘s founder, chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson is an anti-online gambling zealot. He continually pushes a plan to have the federal Wire Act restored.

However, Las Vegas Sands is selling Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ Wind Creek Hospitality. The $1.3 billion sale has yet to close. However, in the meantime, Sands applied for an online gambling license on Wind Creek’s behalf.

Sands representatives told the PGCB it did so without any knowledge of what Wind Creek planned to do with the license. They also confirmed if the sale somehow falls through, Sands will forfeit the $10 million fee and leave the licenses unused.

Wind Creek representatives admitted to the PGCB it still doesn’t have an online gambling plan. They said the company remains focused on the acquisition itself.

Regardless, the PGCB voted unanimously to approve Sands’ online gambling license application.

Valley Forge eyes November

The PGCB also unanimously approved Valley Forge Casino Resort’s online gambling license application. However, the King of Prussia property has a concrete plan.

In fact, Valley Forge gave the PGCB the following list of online gaming partners it plans to use to launch online gambling products as soon as November:

  • IGT — iGaming platform
  • GAN — Player account functions and risk management
  • GeoComply — Geolocation
  • Aristotle — Age and identity verification

Valley Forge has also partnered with FanDuel with a plan to launch an online and mobile sports betting product before long. A sports betting license will cost the organization an additional $10 million and allow it to run a sportsbook online and on the property.

The PGCB has now approved seven online gambling license applications:

Three PA casino license holders still have pending applications:

Ten licenses are still available, including two online slots, two online table games and three online poker licenses. The PGCB has invited qualified gaming entities to apply for the licenses. It will grant the licenses through a random draw. The period to apply runs from Oct. 15-31.

PA’s first sportsbooks

In the meantime, the PGCB also granted PA’s first two sports betting licenses.

The PGCB granted conditional approval for sports betting to both Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment.

Penn National Gaming plans to open a sportsbook at its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville within the next few months.

Greenwood is targeting November for the launch of sports betting at its Parx Casino, and January for a mobile sports betting product. However, a second sportsbook it applied for permission to open at its South Philadelphia Turf Club may have to wait a little longer.

The state’s Office of Enforcement Council recommended the off-track betting facility wait to launch sports betting until Parx proves its sports betting tech works at the casino.

Greenwood lawyers claimed PA laws don’t require this, but the PGCB meeting ended without a final resolution on the issue.

Penn National Gaming and William Hill

Penn National Gaming is partnering with the largest sportsbook operator in the country, William Hill US, to open its Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course sportsbook.

Company representatives told the PGCB the operation will run inside its racebook’s simulcast theater on the second level of the property. The sportsbook will be 5,000 square feet and include:

  • Six betting windows
  • Two odds boards
  • 110-inch video wall
  • Three dozen 55-inch TVs with major sports programming packages

Penn National Gaming also expressed a keen interest in launching a mobile sports betting product at a later date.

The Parx sports betting plan

Greenwood representatives told the PGCB its plan is to open a temporary sportsbook at the 360 Lounge on the Parx casino floor. Construction of a permanent facility is already underway with plans to open in the second quarter of 2019.

Greenwood representatives claim the temporary space will be ready to open in November with both retail and mobile wagering via closed Wi-Fi network. It plans to launch mobile sports betting that is available statewide in January.

Features of the temporary sportsbook include:

  • Seven betting windows
  • 12 self-service kiosks (plus 30 more kiosks throughout the casino)
  • Several 16-by-9-foot HD televisions

Greenwood is also looking to launch sports betting at its Valley Forge Turf Club off-track betting facility.

Three other PA casino license holders have sports betting license applications pending:

  • Rivers Casino
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia

The PGCB’s next meeting is Oct. 31.

When It Comes To August Casino Revenue, Parx Pulled Away From The Pack

Total gaming revenue at Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos was up in August, rising to more than $275 million thanks to a small boost from slots.

Pennsylvania’s gaming revenue was up in August thanks to a small boost from slots.

Numbers released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) this week showed total gaming revenue across the state’s 12 casinos rose 2.8 percent over August of last year. Statewide total gaming revenue hit more than $275 million last month, $7.5 million above August 2017 totals.

Total gaming revenue is the combination of slot machine and table games revenue.

Table game revenues dipped 1.33 percent last month, from $74.2 million to $73.2 million. However, slot machine revenues picked up the slack.

In fact, August 2018 slot machine revenue at PA’s 12 casinos rose above the $200 million mark, representing a 4.4 percent jump over August 2017 figures of approximately $193 million.

The state’s 1,275 table games in operation throughout August generated more than $11 million in tax revenue. However, the tax revenue generated by the state’s 25,511 slots put that to shame. Slots put more than $105 million into the state’s coffers last month.

Parx widens its gaming revenue lead

Parx Casino widened its lead over Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem as the top-grossing casino in the state in August.

In fact, Parx posted more than $52 million in total gaming revenue throughout the month, an 8.51 percent jump from last August.

Sands held onto second place posting $44.4 million in total gaming revenue, despite that representing a 1.43 percent drop from the same month in 2017.

Sands also managed to hold on to the table games revenue lead in PA. This despite the casino’s table games revenue dropping 6.35 percent to $18.6 million.

Of course, Parx’ $34.7 million in slots revenue was tops in PA. It represented an 8.57 percent jump over its own numbers from August 2017 and was well above the $25.7 million posted by runner-up Sands.

Parx’ 8.51 percent jump in total gaming revenue represented the largest percentage change among the state’s 12 casinos. However, it was followed closely by Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino. Rivers saw its total gaming revenue rise 8.16 percent, from $27.7 million in August 2017, to $29.9 million last month.

Rivers is the third-highest grossing casino in PA, above Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino in fourth. Both casinos are Rush Street Gaming properties.

Mohegan Sun Pocono saw the largest percentage drop in total gaming revenue last month. Its total gaming revenue dipped 5.54 percent from $20.6 million to $19.5 million.

Lady Luck brings up the rear

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin continued to be the state’s poorest performing casino. It also got the news in August Churchill Downs is taking over management as a part of Churchill Downs’ purchase of Presque Isle Downs and Casino.

Lady Luck’s total gaming revenue dropped 4.19 percent, from $2.9 million in August 2017, to $2.7 million last month. It was the only PA casino to post under $10 million in total gaming revenue last month.

Below is a table showing total gaming revenue for all 12 casinos in PA and statewide totals.

CasinoAugust 2018 Total Gaming RevenueAugust 2017 Total Gaming Revenue% Change
Parx Casino$52,172,737$48,080,2248.51%
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem$44,437,750$45,081,674-1.43%
Rivers Casino$29,976,472$27,714,2608.16%
SugarHouse Casino$24,652,705$23,069,9266.86%
Harrah's Philadelphia$21,225,725$20,866,4421.72%
The Meadows$20,284,299$21,331,372-4.91%
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course$20,043,684$18,859,275
Mohegan Sun Pocono$19,541,451$20,687,196-5.54%
Mount Airy Casino Resort$17,752,347$17,338,475
Presque Isle Downs and Casino$11,460,245$11,538,645-0.68%
Valley Forge Casino Resort$10,683,577$9,991,3526.93%
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin$2,779,807$2,901,452
Statewide Total$275,010,801$267,460,2922.82%

Slot Machine Revenue May Not Be Down But Definitely Is Flat

After a year of declines, Pennsylvnaia slot revenue for the fiscal year managed to stay flat, but that is about all it managed to do.

It’s not much of an increase, but it’s an increase nonetheless. And after a down fiscal year, Pennsylvania will certainly take any kind of upward trend in slot machine gross revenue.

According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Tuesday, slots in the Keystone State generated $2,352,320,936 in gross revenue during the 2017-18 fiscal year. That reflects a bump of just more than $16 million from 2016-17.

While it is an increase of only 0.7 percent, all that matters is that slots are back on the rise.

Bouncing back

Since the opening of Pennsylvania’s first casino in November 2006, only three other time periods were more substantial than the 2017-18 fiscal year.

  • 2011-12: $2.48 billion
  • 2012-13: $2.43 billion
  • 2015-16: $2.39 billion
  • 2017-18: $2.35 billion

The slight uptick from 2016-17, which generated just under $2.34 billion, coincides with an equally small uptick in the total number of slot machines in the state. The 25,737 slots in Pennsylvania is up from 25,685 the previous year.

Tax revenue from slots equaled $1.19 billion, which is actually down from the 2016-17 total of $1.24 billion and is the lowest tax revenue from slots since 2009-10.

Since 2006, casinos have generated $24.8 billion in slot revenue. The state has collected $13.3 billion from slot tax revenue. Most of that tax revenue is used for property tax reduction to Pennsylvania homeowners.

Parx leads the pack

No property in Pennsylvania performed better in slots than Parx Casino, which totaled more than $400 million over the past fiscal year for an uptick of 3.66 percent.

In June alone, Parx posted just under $35 million –  10.37 percent more than June 2017 and more than $10 million more than second-place Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

For 2017-18, Sands pulled in $302 million, which is down slightly (0.69 percent) from the 2016-17 fiscal year, while Rivers Casino reported $274 million for a 3.35 percent increase. Rivers Casino, with $22.9 milion, was the only other PA property to exceed $20 million from slot revenue in June.

Below is the listing of Pennsylvania casinos with their 2017-18 fiscal year gross revenue, percentage change from 2016-17, and June gross revenue.

The PGCB, according to its release, will post total gaming revenue when it reports the same figures for June later this month.

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More Losers Than Winners When It Comes To May Casino Revenue

May was a decent month for PA casinos with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reporting slight increases in combined table game and slots revenues.

May was a decent month for PA casinos with revenues pretty much holding steady across the board.

In fact, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) reported a slight increase in combined table game and slots revenues for the state’s 10 stand-alone and racetrack casinos and two smaller resort casinos. As a result, combined total gaming revenues were up 0.43 percent from $277.7 million in May 2017 to $278.9 million last month.

Statewide table game revenues were up 0.6 percent from $74.4 million in May 2017 to $74.9 million last month. Additionally, statewide slot revenues were up 0.37 percent from $203.2 million in May 2017 to $203.99 million in May 2018.

More than $118 million in taxes

The state collected more than $118 million in taxes from the casinos. A little over $106 million of that came from the 25,840 slot machines operating at Pennsylvania casinos. Another $12,058,720 came from the 1,271 table games in operation.

Parx Casino in Bensalem held on to its spot as the states top revenue generating casino. It posted total gaming revenues of $51.7 million, up 7.11 percent from the same month last year.

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem continued to post second-place numbers, despite seeing total gaming revenues decline 3.3 percent from $48.2 million in May 2017 to $46.6 million last month.

Valley Forge Casino Resort saw the biggest percentage increase in revenue from last May. In fact, the King of Prussia casino saw a 25.18 percent increase in total gaming revenues from $9.3 million in May 2017 to $11.7 million last month.

The Philadelphia-area casino paid $1 million to the state to eliminate it’s $10 resort fee for customers at the end of last year. It has seen traffic at the property and revenues climb substantially ever since.

PA casino movers and shakers:

Four of 12 PA casinos saw increases in total gaming revenue in May 2018, including:

Unfortunately, the other eight open and operating casinos in the state all saw revenue declines in May.

Mount Airy Casino Resort reported the biggest revenue drop. It saw revenues decline 9.62 percent from $17.2 million in May 2017 to $15.5 million last month.

Here’s a look at the eight PA casinos reporting revenue declines in May 2018:

Below is a pie chart examining May 2018 PA casino market share courtesy of

Additionally, here is a complete May 2018 PA casino revenue analysis also courtesy of

Could The Pennsylvania Slots Be Having A Winning Season?

April slots revenue was only up slightly over last year, but it marks the second-straight month of year-over-year growth for Pennsylvania casinos.

New numbers from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) indicate the state’s 12 casinos grossed 0.2 percent more in April 2018 than they did in April 2017.

While April’s growth was slight, it marks two months in a row that PA slots revenues have risen over the previous year.

Breaking down the numbers: Winners and losers

Of the 12 casinos in the state, only four posted gains over April 2017:

Parx and Rivers are two of the top three revenue earners in the state. The April bottom line benefited from this fact, as the two casinos steadied the losses sustained by other properties.

In fact, April marks the second-straight month that all four casinos on the list have posted positive numbers.

In March, the gains were as follows:

  • Valley Forge: 13.64%
  • Presque Isle: 11.53%
  • Rivers: 9.45%
  • Parx: 9.01%

Meanwhile, the other eight casinos struggle through April. Here’s a rundown of their slots revenue losses:

The good news for the Mohegan Sun, Sands, and SugarHouse is that their March gains trumped their April losses, putting them ahead in slots for the past two months.

The good news about the April numbers is that they represent two consecutive months of positive YOY growth.

According to PGCB Communications Director Doug Harbach, the average swing in YOY slot revenue ranges from 2 percent growth to 2 percent decline and has been steady for the past few years.

“Our slots numbers have remained consistent over the past number of years even with growing competition … we have seasoned operators who do a very good job of meeting the market demands. They also continue to grow the amenities at the facilities which, in turn, can give patrons more reason to visit and stay longer.”

Looking ahead: How will online slots play out?

A downturn of brick-and-mortar revenue isn’t out of the ordinary during January and February, as inclement weather tends to roll in and keep people away from casinos. As the weather warms and steadies out, slots revenue should level off and continue an upward climb.

However, once the bad weather rolls around next year, brick-and-mortar slots revenue may take an extra hit from the online slots that presumably will be available in January and February.

New Jersey is a good test case for this, as January and February were tough months for land-based casinos as historic rainfall and storms barrelled through the state.

However, the losses casinos experienced weren’t as bad as they could be. Gamblers who didn’t want to brave the bad weather stayed and home and gambling on New Jersey’s online casinos. The revenue from those online gamblers tempered Atlantic City’s losses.

Online slots act as an extra source of revenue but, when it comes to temperamental New England weather, the extra online revenue sources act as insurance against anything that would keep people out of land-based casinos.

Thanks To Sands’ Snafu, Parx Casino Nabs Fourth Mini-Casino License

After Sands won the initial auction for the fourth mini-casino license then selected an invalid location, the bid went to Parx, who will build a satellite property in South Newton.

It wasn’t quite Buckner-esque, but it was close.

This past Wednesday, Sands Casino won the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s (PGCB) fourth lottery for a satellite casino license … or so they thought. The PGCB announced that Sands’ winning bid was invalid because the casino’s proposed satellite site was too close to Mount Airy’s satellite casino near the Ohio border.

The day following the error, the PGCB award the fourth license to Parx. The casino’s victory came by default since they were the only other casino bidding on the license..

Their winning bid of $8.11 million was rather paltry considering the first three auctions earned the state $112 million.

Parx will build near Penn National’s Yoe County satellite

As per the PGCB’s regulations for the satellite auctions, Parx submitted their bid along with the coordinates of where they will build their satellite.

Greenwood Gaming Entertainment, the group who owns Parx, selected South Newton Township (Cumberland County) as the site of their mini-casino. The location is about 50 miles due west of Yoe, where Penn National will build their satellite.

The two casinos will capture, presumably, PA gambling traffic headed south across the Maryland border to gamble at Hollywood Casino Perryville and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town.

South Newton lies near Interstate 81 while Yoe is on Interstate 83. Both casinos, therefore, will cover a lot of southern traffic headed in and out of Harrisburg.

According to traffic volume figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), about 45,000 vehicles travel along the section of Interstate 81 that passes through South Newton.

The department estimates that 51,000 vehicles pass by Yoe via Interstate 83 each day, with an additional 11,000 driving through on Route 74.

Parx’ fortuitous win pushes auction revenue past $120 million

The state’s first four lotteries have been a revenue success, netting $121 million. Penn National won the first license for $51 million. Stadium Gaming LLC, whose Philly Live! will be the fourth Philly-area casino, won the second license for $41 million. Then, Mount Airy snagged the third one for $21 million.

The trend among these winning bids is noticeable, as the price for a satellite dropped significantly after each lottery. Even Sands original winning bid of $9.89 million was well below the first three but well within the downward trend.

Sands’ win is considered a steal because the minimum bid amount for the licenses is $7.5 million.

Six licenses are still available for Category 1 and 2 casinos. Should any of those remaining six licenses go unpurchased, the PGCB will open up a second round of auctions. That auction will include Category 3 casinos Valley Forge and Lady Luck Nemacolin.

We’d expect SugarHouse Casino to make a bid for one of the licenses at some point. Parx owned 17.6 percent of the state’s gambling revenue in 2016. SugarHouse was second with 9.6 percent.

While it’s not a guarantee that SugarHouse will make a play for a satellite license, there’s a good chance they will. Harrah’s is nipping at their heels with a 7.6-percent share. It will most likely want a satellite so they can keep pace with Parx and the forthcoming Philly Live!.

Sands Reaches The Top As Pennsylvania Casino Revenues Rise 3.86 Percent

For the first time this year, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem became Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in September, overtaking perennial leader Parx.

For the first time this year, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem became Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in September.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released total gambling revenue figures for the month of September last week, showing Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem pulled in more than $47.5 million.

Parx Casino has held the revenue lead every month this year prior to September. However, the Philadelphia-area casino fell to second among the state’s 12 casino properties, posting $47.4 million in revenue throughout the month.

Parx was the top-grossing casino in the state in 2016. It claimed more than $551 million in annual gambling revenue. Sands was a close second, posting a little more than $535 million throughout the year.

While Parx held a strong lead in slots revenue in 2016, Sands earned almost $70 million more from table games, bridging the gap.

A tight race at the top

It has been close at the top through the first eight months of the year. However, Parx has been putting a small distance between itself and Sands every month until September. With just three more months until the end of they year, Parx would still have to be considered the favorite to remain Pennsylvania’s top-grossing casino in 2017.

The news was good across the board for Pennsylvania’s gambling industry in September. In fact, total gaming revenue was up more than $10 million, or 3.86 percent, compared to September 2016.

Total statewide gambling revenue hit $271 million in September compared to $260.9 million in the same month last year.

Just two PA casinos see declines

In fact, just two PA casinos saw revenues decline.

Mohegan Sun Pocono’s total gambling revenues were down 3.56 percent from $21.5 million in September 2016 to $20.7 million last month. Additionally, Presque Isle Downs and Casino saw its total gambling revenue drop 3.37 percent from $11.5 million in September of last year to $11.1 million last month.

The biggest gains were seen by Mount Airy Casino Resort. Its total gambling revenue jumped 8.69 percent from $15.9 million in September 2016 to $17.3 million last month. Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh also saw some impressive gains. Its total gambling revenue rose 8.02 percent from $26.1 million in September of last year to $28.2 million last month.

Statewide table game revenues were up nearly 10 percent from $68.7 million in September 2016 to $75.6 million last month. However, slot machines continue to be the biggest earners at PA casinos. In September 2017 alone, statewide total slot revenues hit more than $195 million.

More than $108 million in taxes collected

Pennsylvania collects a 16 percent tax on table game revenues and a 54 percent tax rate on slot machine revenues. The total tax gambling tax revenue collected by the state in September 2017 was $108,307,631.75.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are still considering legalizing online gambling in the state as a part of budget deliberations this year. The hope is online gambling can bring in an additional $200 million in tax revenue for the state.

Image credit: Andy Borysowski /