Pennsylvania casino revenue record; Sands Bethlehem aims ETG at low-rollers

pennsylvania-casino-gaming-revenue-record-sands-bethlehemPennsylvania casinos posted record gaming revenue in their most recent fiscal year.

According to figures released Monday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, table game revenue in the 12 months ending June 30 was up 7.6% year-on-year to $839.2m, nearly $60m higher than the previous record.

Combined with the $2.39b in slots revenue recently reported by the state’s 12 casinos, the total annual haul came to $3.23b.

The overall figure is 3.6% higher than the state reported during the 2014-15 fiscal year and 2.7% more than the previous record of $3.14b set in 2012-13. The state’s share of this bounty came to just under $1.52b, thanks to its highest-in-the-nation 54% slots tax.
Pennsylvania taxes table game revenue at a more moderate 14%, although that’s still high compared to jurisdictions like Atlantic City and Nevada, which have effective tax rates of 9.25% and 7.75%, respectively.

The new 150-station electronic table game (ETG) array launched earlier this month at Las Vegas Sands’ Sands Bethlehem property is subject to Pennsylvania’s 14% rate, despite its lack of resemblance to traditional table games. There is but one human dealer and all bets are placed and settled electronically, leaving no chips to clear, which speeds up the pace of play.

Sands was one of the early adopters of the hybrid ETG in Macau, principally because it offered a way to accommodate the needs of low-spending mass market gamblers, thereby reserving the actual live gaming tables – the numbers of which are limited by Macau’s controversial gaming table cap – for the VIP and premium-mass baccarat crowd.

Sands Bethlehem is employing the same strategy with its ETG, offering minimum bets as low as $5. The property’s live blackjack table minimums start at $10 but this entry level can rise to $20 or $25 on weekends, leaving low-rollers with little options. Until now.

Sands has yet to unleash its full promotional weight behind its new ETG product, preferring to wait until it’s sure any potential kinks have been worked out. Barring major hiccups, the property is planning an official launch later this month.

Sands Bethlehem is the state’s traditional table game market leader, and the 2015-16 stats were no exception. The property’s table take was $228.1m, up 12.4% year-on-year and significantly higher than runner-up Parx Casino’s $155m.

Not coincidentally, Sands also has the highest volume of Asian gamblers of the state’s casino operators. A recent profile in the Allentown Morning Call revealed that Sands has hired over 500 Mandarin-speaking staff to accommodate its Asian clientele. Sands’ new ETG setup offers services in Mandarin, Spanish and English.