Pennsylvania slot machine tax revenue hit its lowest point since the start of the decade, according to new revenue data. And gross revenue from slots decreased year-over-year for the ninth consecutive month.
Those are worrying trends for a state that depends heavily on gaming revenue. Lawmakers, to date, have been taking their sweet time on passing a gaming package to help its land-based casinos while also helping state coffers.
The latest PA slot numbers
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released the latest data on slot revenue for June. That also included the full fiscal year numbers for 2016-2017.
The news wasn’t good for PA. Here’s a look at gross slot revenue and tax revenue for the past eight years:
|Fiscal year||Gross revenue from slots||Tax revenue|
As the table shows, this past year is the lowest for state tax receipts from slots since 2009.
For gross casino revenue, it was down more than $50 million from a year ago, a decline of two percent. Revenue was up only slightly from 2014-15.
However, it was the seventh consecutive year that slot revenue eclipsed $2.3 billion.
The trend for PA slots is down, down…
Not shockingly, the numbers from June were down from the same month in 2016. Casinos took in $188.5 million last month on slots. That’s down about $1.5 million, or .8 percent.
So far, upticks from table game revenue have been able to mask the slot downturn. But we now have ample evidence that the lower slot revenue is more than just a blip on the radar:
- October 2016 slot machine revenue: $191,850,596.41 (-3.04 percent)
- November 2016 slot machine revenue: $179,399,603.94 (-4.34 percent)
- December 2016 slot machine revenue: $185,349,872.22 (-6.17 percent)
- January 2017 slot machine revenue: $180,304,669.91 (-2.44 percent)
- February 2017 slot machine revenue: $192,268,470 (-3.95 percent)
- March 2017 slot machine revenue: $209,984,146.94 (-.6 percent)
- April 2017 slot machine revenue: $205,702,752.11 (-1.58 percent)
- May 2017 slot machine revenue: $203,248,175.70 (-2.68 percent)
The bottom line: Slot revenue isn’t just going to magically start rebounding or growing in the state.
PA online gambling hangs in the balance
Meanwhile, the state is considering a massive gaming package that could provide new money for both casinos and the state. A vote on that bill could happen as soon as Friday.
One part of the package that would definitively help land-based gaming is the legalization of online gambling.
Despite inane op-eds to the contrary, online gambling actually helps revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos. The addition of iGaming in New Jersey has proven to both activate new and relapsed customers while also increasing gaming spend from existing patrons.
If Pennsylvania is willing to see its slot revenue continue to erode, by all means, lawmakers should do nothing and pass on online gambling for another year. But it’s clear the state has an unused tool — online gambling — that it’s been reluctant to unsheath.