Pennsylvania casinos set yet another gaming revenue record in 2017 despite the second straight year of declining slots revenue.
Figures released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board show the state’s 12 brick-and-mortar casino licensees generated combined gaming revenue of $3.226b in 2017, up a mere 0.4% from 2016’s total of $3.213b, which was up 1.25% from 2015’s $3.173b.
While the margin may have been miniscule, the 2017 total marks the third straight year the figure has grown, and the seventh straight year that total revenue has exceeded $3b. The state’s share of this bounty amounted to $1.33b, thanks to its nation-high slots tax rate of 56%.
The state’s slots revenue closed out 2017 on a positive note, rising 1.2% in the month of December, but the annual total came in at $2.336b, representing a 1% decline from 2016, which also experienced a mild year-on-year slots shortfall.
Eight of the 12 casinos reported negative slots growth in 2017, including the market-leading Parx Casino ($388.2m, -0.4%) and runner-up Sands Bethlehem ($302.6m, -0.8%). Third-place Rivers Casino bucked the trend, rising 1.8% to $269.7m.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania’s table games had a record 2017, with statewide revenue rising 4.4% to $890.7m. The individual casinos were evenly split by table losers and winners, with the latter represented by market-leading Sands Bethlehem ($243.2m, +5.7%), Parx ($178.3m, +10.2%) and Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino ($119.9m, +2.9%).
Parx won the overall gaming revenue race with $566.5m, with Sands Bethlehem second with $545.8m and Rivers third with $335.5m.
Pennsylvania’s gaming market is due for some upheaval in 2018, following last year’s passage of sweeping gambling expansion legislation. The first fruit of that expansion came last week, when Penn National Gaming ‘won’ the auction for the first of 10 available Category 4 ‘satellite’ casino licenses. The next auction is scheduled for January 24.
Pennsylvania’s expansion included plans to become only the fourth US state to launch intrastate online gambling. The state regulator has so far played coy with its anticipated timelines for crafting regulations and accepting license applications.
The Pennsylvania Lottery, which the legislation authorized to launch online sales – provided they don’t mimic casino games – recently told local media that it hoped its ‘iLottery’ products would hit the market this spring.