An Extra Day In February 2016 Is Partly To Blame For Year-Over-Year Revenue Drop At PA Casinos

February Swoon: Leap Year Largely Responsible For Drop In Pennsylvania Casino Revenue

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February wasn’t kind to Pennsylvania casinos.

The state’s 12 casinos saw their combined revenue fall by nearly four percent year-over-year. Both table game revenue and slot revenue declined in February.

  • Slot machine revenue February 2017: $192,268,470 (-3.95%)
  • Table game revenue February 2017: $66,302,623 (-2.76%)
  • Total gaming revenue February 2017: $258,571,093 (-3.65%)

More troubling, a clear trend is emerging: The state’s slot revenue numbers suffered a year-over-year decline for the fifth consecutive month.

This should be setting off alarm bells in casinos and in Harrisburg, where there are now three active gaming bills.

  • October 2016 slot machine revenue: $191,850,596.41 (-3.04%)
  • November 2016 slot machine revenue: $179,399,603.94 (-4.34%)
  • December 2016 slot machine revenue: $185,349,872.22 (-6.17%)
  • January 2017 slot machine revenue: $180,304,669.91 (-2.44%)
  • February 2017 slot machine revenue: $192,268,470 (-3.95%)

Impact of leap year on PA casino revenue

The numbers start to look a little bit better when we take into account that 2016 was a leap year and had an extra day.

But even factoring in the extra day from last year, slot revenue was still down a bit. Slot revenue for February 2017 when normalized comes in at -0.5 percent.

On the other hand, table game revenue ticked up ever so slightly when we account for the extra day. Table game revenue for February 2017 normalized comes in at +0.7 percent.

February’s winners and losers

Only two of the state’s 12 casinos (one of the largest and one of the smallest) posted year-over-year revenue increases in February:

  • Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin: +7.41 percent
  • Sands Bethlehem: +3.42 percent

The other 10 casinos in Pennsylvania posted year-over-year revenue declines in February. This includes SugarHouse, which can no longer rely on pre-expansion numbers driving year-over-year growth:

  • Rivers Casino: -4.05 percent
  • Parx Casino: -3.87 percent
  • SugarHouse Casino: -9.19 percent
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia: -6.88 percent
  • Hollywood Casino: -1.87 percent
  • Mount Airy Casino Resort: -.24 percent
  • Valley Forge Casino Resort: -5.83 percent
  • Presque Isle Downs and Casino: -5.62 percent
  • The Meadows Casino: -4.96 percent
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono: -8.68 percent

Casino-by-casino analysis

The chart below shows market share by casino for February 2017.

Parx Casino

  • Slot revenue: $30,915,963 (-6.54%)
  • Table game revenue: $13,612,477 (+2.82%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $44,528,440 (-3.87%)

A slight increase in table game revenue did little to affect Parx’s fortunes in February.

Overall, the casino saw total gaming revenue dip nearly four percent year-over-year, which nearly cost Parx its hold as the market share leader in Pennsylvania.

Sands Bethlehem

  • Slot revenue: $25,322,381 (+.93%)
  • Table game revenue: $18,727,468 (+6.99%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $44,049,849 (+3.42%)

A down month for Parx and a solid month for Sands sees the two casinos in familiar territory — virtually neck and neck in terms of monthly revenue.

Sands’ revenue was up across the board — slots, table games, and total revenue — but the bigger story remains the proposed sale of the property to MGM.

Should the sale go through, it would have a ripple effect on the entire Pennsylvania casino market. This is especially true from a policy perspective, as Sands and MGM have diametrically opposed stances when it comes to online gambling.

Rivers Casino

  • Slot revenue: $23,042,642 (+.12%)
  • Table game revenue: $4,379,663 (-21.29%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $27,422,305 (-4.05%)

Rivers was one of only four casinos in the market to see slot revenue rise in February, but it was still far from a good month. The Pittsburgh property’s table game revenue dropped by more than 20 percent.

SugarHouse Casino

  • Slot revenue: $15,128,615 (-4.45%)
  • Table game revenue: $7,641,238 (-17.31%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $22,769,853 (-9.19%)

SugarHouse’s year-over-year revenue gains from 2016 have come to a screeching halt in 2017, but the casino is holding on to the fourth spot in the Pennsylvania market. It trails only giants Parx and Sands and its sister property in Pittsburgh, Rivers.

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Harrah’s Philadelphia

  • Slot revenue: $16,359,772 (-10.8%)
  • Table game revenue: $5,399,119 (+7.43%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $21,758,891 (-6.88%)

Solid gains in table game revenue couldn’t offset the double-digit drop in slot revenue at Harrah’s Chester. It has now suffered back-to-back months of double-digit slot revenue declines.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

  • Slot revenue: $16,973,471 (-8.6%)
  • Table game revenue: $3,350,080 (-9.08%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $20,323,551 (-8.68%)

Its fall-off hasn’t been as precipitous as Harrah’s, but Mohegan Sun has also seen its slot revenue heavily erode in 2017. January and February both produced slot revenue numbers down more than eight percent.

Coupled with a nine percent year-over-year drop in table game revenue, Mohegan’s total gaming revenue was down nearly nine percent in February.

The Meadows Casino

  • Slot revenue: $17,709,149 (-5.81%)
  • Table game revenue: $2,655,641 (+1.08%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $20,364,790 (-4.96%)

Meadows continues to hover around the $20 million mark. The racino relies almost exclusively on slot revenue, which was down nearly six percent in February.

Just how heavily does Meadows rely on slots? Despite being the sixth highest grossing casino in the state, Meadows ranks ninth in table game revenue.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National

  • Slot revenue: $17,209,140 (-2.47%)
  • Table game revenue: $2,910,660 (+1.79%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $20,119,800 (-1.87%)

Total gaming revenue was down two percent in February, but Hollywood Casino continues to be the most consistent performer year-over-year in the early part of 2017.

Had it not been for the leap year in 2016, Hollywood would have posted its second straight month of small year-over-year gains.

Mount Airy Casino Resort

  • Slot revenue: $11,194,403 (-3.76%)
  • Table game revenue: $3,893,638 (+11.52%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $15,088,041 (-.24%)

Mount Airy held steady on the back of double-digit table game revenue growth, which nearly offset the four percent drop in slot revenue it experienced in February.

Valley Forge Casino Resort

  • Slot revenue: $6,803,627 (+7%)
  • Table game revenue: $2,233,741 (-31.01%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $9,037,367 (-5.83%)

So far, Valley Forge has bucked the early 2017 trend. The Category 3 casino posted seven percent slot revenue growth in each of the first two months of the year.

Unfortunately, Valley Forge took a bath on table games in February (-31 percent), which caused year-over-year revenue to fall by nearly six percent.

Presque Isle Downs and Casino

  • Slot revenue: $8,997,599 (-6.33%)
  • Table game revenue: $1,196,822 (+.10%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $10,194,422 (-5.62%)

Presque Isle continues to struggle to find a footing in the market. It’s on the verge of being passed by a Category 3 casino, Valley Forge.

Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin

  • Slot revenue: $2,611,708 (+18.96%)
  • Table game revenue: $302,076 (-41.61%)
  • Total gaming revenue: $2,913,784 (+7.41%)

Category 3 casinos (Valley Forge and Lady Luck) have been the best early performers in 2017. Lady Luck posted five percent growth in January and more than seven percent growth in February.

That said, it’s a good thing Lady Luck doesn’t rely very heavily on table game revenue (as is the case at Valley Forge). The casino posted a jaw-dropping 41 percent year-over-year decline.

Historical look at casino revenue in Pennsylvania

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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