Should Sands Bethlehem Worry About Dwindling Casino Revenue?

Posted on December 19, 2018

The Pennsylvania casino industry bounced back in November after a tough October.

Casinos experienced a small dip in table game revenue, but small gains in slot revenue offset that. The end result was in total casino revenue ticking up by 0.3 percent.

November also brought Pennsylvania’s first sports betting revenue numbers. In November, Pennsylvania’s lone sportsbook at Hollywood Casino generated $508,996 in revenue from $1.4 million in handle.

The revenue and handle numbers will grow as more books open and when online is added to the mix.

Top line numbers for November 2018

Here’s a look at the top line November numbers:

  • Slot machine revenue: $183,069,176.86 (+0.96 percent)
  • Table game revenue: $71,286,756 (-1.31 percent)
  • Total gaming revenue: $254,355,933 (+0.31 percent)

12-month slot revenue trend

A 1 percent increase in November marks the seventh time in the last nine months that the Pennsylvania casino industry posted slot revenue gains.

That’s a far cry from where the industry was just a year ago when it was in the midst of a prolonged slot revenue decline.

  • December 2017 slot machine revenue: $187,614,378.63 (+1.22 percent)
  • January 2018 slot machine revenue: $177,795,127.32 (-1.39 percent)
  • February 2018 slot machine revenue: $189,056,194.76 (-1.67 percent)
  • March 2018 slot machine revenue: $221,350,220.10 (+5.41 percent)
  • April 2018 slot machine revenue: $206,178,527.52 (+0.23 percent)
  • May 2018 slot machine revenue: $203,993,259.02 (+0.37 percent)
  • June 2018 slot machine revenue: $197,763,672 (+4.9 percent)
  • July 2018 slot machine revenue: $203,643,985.78 (-2.62 percent)
  • August 2018 slot machine revenue: $201,729,430.81 (+4.42 percent)
  • September 2018 slot machine revenue: $196,209,617.90 (+.42 percent)
  • October 2018 slot machine revenue: $186,255,556.07 (-1.73 percent)
  • November 2018 slot machine revenue: $183,069,176.86 (+0.96 percent)

A look at who was up and who was down in November

Revenue was pretty flat industry wide, but on the individual operator level it was largely feast or famine.

Eleven of the 12 operators saw revenues fluctuate by at least two percent, and eight of those saw year-over-year revenue changes of at least 5 percent.

Market share and revenue comparisons

PA market analysis

Rivers out pips Sands

Sands struggles are well documented, but November’s numbers really crystallize the downward spiral the casino has been on since the announced sale from Las Vegas Sands to Wind Creek Hospitality.

How bad has it gotten?

For the first time, Sands fell to the No. 3 spot in slot revenue. It’s close to losing its previously tight hold on the top spot for table game revenue to Parx, too.

Valley Forge is still growing

With another strong month, Valley Forge has left Presque Isle in its rearview mirror. That’s no small feat considering the Valley Forge is a Category 3 “resort” casino with strict caps on table games and slot machines.

  • Valley Forge caps: 850 slots 50 table games
  • Presque Isle caps: 5,000 slots 250 table games

Total casino revenue at Valley Forge has been up in 12 of the last 13 months at Valley Forge.

  • November 2017: +12.4 percent
  • December 2017: +6.4 percent
  • January 2018: +13.9 percent
  • February 2018: +15 percent
  • March 2018: +10.5 percent
  • April 2018: – 5.64 percent
  • May 2018: +25.18 percent
  • June 2018: +15.84 percent
  • July 2018: +7.44 percent
  • August 2018: +6.93 percent
  • September 2018: +10.48 percent
  • October 2018: +10.40 percent
  • November 2018: +6.13 percent

Valley Forge’s yearlong hot streak has everything to do with its elimination of the $10 amenity fee in 2017.

Valley Forge also applied to increase the maximum number of slot machines it can possess for a one-time fee of $2.5 million.

Hello sports betting

Last month, legal sports betting became a reality in Pennsylvania, but the state is going to have to wait for significant revenue to start rolling in.

As noted above, only a single retail sportsbook was open for business in November and only two more have launched since. No other sportsbook openings are expected until 2019.

A historical look at PA casino revenue in

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock has been a well-known writer and analyst in the world of regulated US online gambling. He contributes to a number of online publications focused on online poker and online casino, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, and many others.

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