While Slots And Sports Betting Grow, PA Casino Table Games Are Sluggish

Written By Kevin Shelly on July 24, 2019 - Last Updated on November 18, 2021

Lost in the recent announcement of another record year for overall casino revenue growth was the first-ever reversal of fortunes for table games in Pennsylvania.

The 2018/2019 table revenue for the year was $885,588,231. That’s a decrease of more than $9.69 million, which sounds significant, but it is a drop of just more than 1 percent compared to the year before.

Given the tiny percentage drop, it’s too soon to make much of the decrease, though it could bear watching.

Looking back, revenues for table games in their first fiscal year back in 2010/2011 was just $507,711,162 for the Keystone State, so clearly the revenue pot has grown at a strong clip.

Each intervening year has meant adding millions more in table game revenue, sometimes multiple millions. Like clockwork, a new record came with each new fiscal year.

Table games peaked last fiscal year

The amount of table game revenue peaked at $895,278,806 in FY 2017/2018. And that year was a nice increase over the previous year’s record of $866,518,820.

But this just-over 2018/2019 fiscal year?

Mark it down as the first-ever year with no new record for table games, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat.

Winners and losers in table games revenue

Table game results varied wildly by property during the past year, with six properties up and six down.

Lady Luck Nemacolin experienced the sharpest year-over-year decline, dropping –30.59%.  And in their standalone report looking at just June’s table figures, Nemacolin posted a drop of -87.16% compared to June of the previous year.

Rivers Casino, on the other hand, saw the biggest annual uptick with an increase of 9.31%.

Here’s the complete annual percentage change list for PA table games operations:

Slots and sports betting on this rise

Had slots not continued to climb last fiscal year, adding more than $26 million year-over-year, and sports wagering blasted onto the revenue scene with new revenue of $21,730,113 in little more than a month, the decline in table games figure might have been more significant.

But slots, sports betting, and fantasy sports wagering all worked together to set an overall revenue record of $3,309,766,175 in FY 2018/2019, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), making the 1.8% gain for total revenue the focus headline, not the small drop in table revenue.

Slot revenue increased by 1.1% in the past fiscal year, coming in at $2,378,859,341. This, despite a drop in the sheer number of slots. This most recent year topped the $2,352,320,937 in slot revenue from the year before.

Tax revenue produced by slot machine play during the 2018/2019 fiscal year totaled $1,237,085,077.

Slots remain the backbone of the gambling business in Pennsylvania. Since the opening of the first casino in 2006 until now, revenue from slot machine play has totaled $27 billion, resulting in tax revenue of $14.5 billion.

Slot performance varied widely at each property in the most recent year, ranging from an increase of 11.06% at Valley Forge Casino Resort to a decrease of -4.78% at Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, the property which also saw the greatest decline in table game revenue.

Sports betting shows signs of taking off

Sports betting, which only began in November of 2018 in retail locations and expanded to online in late May of this year, brought in revenue of $21,730,113 in revenue and roughly $7.7 million in tax revenue last year.

June, the first full month for online wagering in Pennsylvania, showed the potential of mobile gambling with around $19 million just from bets placed digitally.

The estimated combined tax revenue for the 2018/2019 fiscal year was $1,390,870,251 compared to $1,337,298,788 for the previous fiscal year. Tax revenue figures may still be adjusted.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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