Pennsylvania casinos experienced their first drop in slot machine gross revenue this fiscal year since the lucky 7’s started spinning in 2006.
Despite the nearly 2 percent drop in gross revenue, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reports gamblers spent more than $2.4 billion for the second straight fiscal year.
In the 2012-13 fiscal year ending June 30, slot machine revenue from the 11 Pennsylvania casinos totaled $2,428,840,653 — down from the $2,476,755,316 brought in last fiscal year.
Doug Harbach, director of communications for the board, said the decrease in revenue has to do with a lack of development.
“Pennsylvania’s market was growing the first five years,” Harbach said. “It continued to open more casinos. We haven’t seen that in the year … So, you’re not going to see the growth when the expansion of the industry is not occurring."
Harbach said neighboring states opening their own casinos has also slowed business.
“There’s also more competition since Pennsylvania got into legalized gaming at casinos,” Harbach said. “We see Maryland, which has come on line, and in western PA, Ohio has added a number of casinos, and that certainly is having some effect on the casinos in that end of the state.”
While most casinos experienced a 2 to 4 percent drop in gross revenue from slots, Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino had the lowest decrease at .03 percent — an $86,305 difference. Compare that to Washington County’s Meadows Racetrack and Casino, which saw a decline of about $10.6 million or 4.21 percent.
Harbach said venues like Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino are relying on things other than gaming to get people into the slot seats.
“New marketing plans are unfolding, new amenities at their facilities so that customers come to the casinos for reasons other than gambling,” Harbach said. “So, I think they’re doing very, very well in regards to holding on and growing some business.”
Pennsylvania is second in the nation behind Nevada in casino revenue, according to Harbach.
Since the first slot was played in Pennsylvania seven years ago, the machines have brought in a total of $20.1 billion dollars, with $7.4 billion going to the state in taxes.
The board also reports a small drop in the average daily number of slot machines in operation for the fiscal year — 26,326 compared to 26,495 last year.
Harbach said he doesn’t anticipate the revenue numbers to grow like they have in the past, but he does expect “a leveling of the numbers from year-to-year.”