Pa. gaming isn’t disappearing down the slots
There’s a lot of ink in today’s papers about the fact that Pennsylvania’s casinos showed yet another uptick in slot-related revenue, but the slowing growth has industry people furrowing their brows; wringing their hands; and wondering if there’s an easier way to get people to jump in the car, drive a couple hours away, empty their wallets without reservation, swallow any regrets on the drive home and look forward to doing it all over again next weekend.
Actually, Philadelphians do have a way of doing this for roughly four months each year; locally, it’s referred to as “the Eagles.” But I digress. A closer look at the slots revenue does reveal only the slightest of increases, unless you count SugarHouse, in Philadelphia, which saw a 7.5 percent increase (full breakdown of the numbers here). And the increase comes mainly because the Valley Forge casino brought in about $4 million over last year’s zero (it wasn’t yet open last April).
But before we hang those victory banners from the light poles in Atlantic City, declaring the end of sunny days for gaming in Pennsylvania, we should look at what’s happening on the tables. The most recent data are from March; with some 300 new tables over the year-ago period, Pennsylvania’s 11 casinos brought in nearly $62 million, compared to $54.5 million in March 2011. Atlantic City’s casinos, by way of comparison, continued to go backward, bringing in $266.3 million for a 5 percent drop from March 2011. Atlantic City’s backward procession has become a regularity, meaning it’s headline news when the bad news becomes less-bad, if not good, news.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Revel Entertainment’s casino changes the fortunes of Atlantic City. In any case, though, it’s a bit early to declare the industry has already hit its ceiling.
I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.