Slot Machine Revenue Up in December, Down in 2014

Jan 6, 2015

Despite a bump in December, Pennsylvania’s slot machine revenues were down nearly 3 percent in 2014.

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, nearly all of the state’s 12 casinos experienced growth in slot revenue last month, with the exception of Rivers Casino, which saw a .16 percent drop in revenue compared to December 2013.

Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin saw the largest December revenue leap – up more than 38 percent. The facility opened in July 2013 and Gaming Control Board spokesman Richard McGarvey said these large percentages were expected as the casino continues to establish itself.

“More people learn about the facility being there,” he said. “The facilities do a better job of marketing…We see that in the second and third year of casinos being open.”

McGarvey likened Lady Luck’s growth to the development of the Valley Forge Casino Resort outside of Philadelphia. The facility opened about three years ago and is still seeing higher-than-average growth in slot play, generating about $6.06 million in December 2014 compared to roughly $5.3 million a year earlier.

In total, slot revenue across the state increased 5.82 percent in December 2014.

McGarvey said the December bump is a sign of coming growth, while the yearly numbers tell a slightly different story.

In 2014, Pennsylvania slot machines brought in more than $2.3 billion for the fourth straight year, but still fell 2.7 percent compared to the gross revenue generated in 2013. According to McGarvey, 2014 started out bleak, but revenue rose as the year progressed.

“The beginning of the year was really pretty hard on casinos the first five, six months of the year where we saw a lot of down revenue…,” he said. “The last six months we really saw a rebounding of the revenue.”

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh experienced a 2.59 percent drop last year, while the Meadows in Washington County saw slot revenue fall 5.43 percent.

Sean Sullivan, the Meadows vice president and general manager, blames the revenue slide on neighboring states.

“The market in Ohio has increased dramatically,” he said. “We have the continued competition in West Virginia. The east coast is strengthening in Maryland, and so on. So there’s a tremendous amount of increased competition out there.”

To win back some of its players, Sullivan said the Meadows has updated its bar, buffet and lounge; added an outdoor event stage; and, revamped its customer service training.

“We’ll keep racing. We’ll keep fighting,” he said. “We’ll keep challenging ourselves to improve the business and 2015 has a whole lineup of customer improvements scheduled.”

Slot machine gaming generated $1.24 billion in state taxes last year.