Pennsylvania: Parx back on top; Gov’t milks problem gambling

That old gaming-industry equation that more = more is getting tested in Pennsylvania. On a sheer, gross-gaming-revenue basis, last month’s $297.5 million haul was down 4% from last year but up 7% from the ‘old normal,’ 2019. However, when looked at on a same-store basis, casinos were hurting: 5% down from last year and 10% off the 2019 pace. Whether it was new competition like Parx Shippensburg or a sharp drop in table revenue, there were plenty of factors impacting Keystone State gambling and not enough gamblers to go around a fast-expanding industry.

Despite an 8.5% dropoff, Parx Casino (pictured) retained primacy with $49 million. It was closely rivaled by Wind Creek Bethlehem‘s $45.5 million, on a 5% dip. In the Philadelphia area, the only casino to gain market share was Rivers Philadelphia, up a point to $20 million. Philadelphia Live‘s $21 million (-6%) still gave it downtown bragging rights, however. The situation in the Philly suburbs was rather dire, with Harrah’s Philadelphia plunging 21% to $13 million and Valley Forge Resort (below) shedding 13% to hit $11 million. The Pittsburgh market was dominated by Rivers Pittsburgh‘s $32 million, up 3.5%.

Are players coming back to Rivers after checking out the new(ish) competition? Seems that way, looking at the numbers for Hollywood Meadows ($17 million, -3%) and Pittsburgh Live ($10 million, -3%). Best of the rest was Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs, with $19 million but down 9%. Presque Isle Downs fell 11% to $9 million, smoky Mount Airy leapt 18% to $17.5 million and Hollywood Penn National tumbled 14% to $15 million. Hollywood York jumped 10% to $8.5 million, Hollywood Morgantown was up 11% to $5.5 million, Parx Shippensburg banked $3 million and little Lady Luck Nemacolin plummeted 23% to $1.5 million.

Sports betting brought in $52 million (less $14 million in promos) on handle of $572 million. FanDuel romped with $21 million to DraftKings‘ $9 million, and $1 million apiece for Barstool Sports, BetMGM and Parx. Those three may have gotten their bell rung but it was a TKO against micro-grossing BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook and FoxBet. Internet casinos rang up $137 million, led by the catchall Penn Entertainment license ($58.5 million), followed by FanDuel ($31 million) and BetRivers ($26 million). Tail-end Charlies included FoxBet ($5 million), Caesars Entertainment ($4.5 million), Parx ($5 million) and uniBet ($1.5 million).

For the eighth time in as many legislatures, Las Vegas Sands has done a crash-and-burn in Texas, where megaresort casinos got shot down singlehandedly by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). Is Patrick a cretin? Yes. Is he a powerful one? Indisputably. All Miriam Adelson‘s lobbyists (63 in number) and all her campaign largesse couldn’t buy a victory in the state house. It’ll be a $6 million writedown for CEO Rob Goldstein. Try spinning that at the next earnings call, Mr. G. Although three-quarters of Texans surveyed say they want casinos, the politicians in Austin think they know better. And as long as that’s the case, Sands might do well to sit out a few election cycles—or do the unthinkable and back some Democrats. But Dr. Adelson would probably rather drink her own urine first.

Rob Goldstein

At least Sands’ arguments on behalf of resort casinos make sense. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, arriving on the battlefield in time to shoot the wounded, said they’d make Texas more of a tourist destination. Really, Cubes? Would the average person fly to Houston or Dallas for a spot of gambling, given there’s so little of it elsewhere in the country? </sarcasm> According to, “Cuban says Texas currently offers few reasons for a family to book a trip to the state for their summer vacation.” Speaking from the perspective of a frequent Texas visitor, pardon us while we fall down laughing. Don’t believe us? Here’s the great man himself: “Gambling is certainly a hook, but the real value is to be a destination that people around the country and the world plan a year in advance to save to go to,” and nothing says ‘Texas’ like being inside a fancy-schmancy casino.

Doubling down on the inanity, Cuban said, “Gambling may help pay for the operations of a destination resort, but it’s the next-level experiences that will change tourism for the state and could make us the number one tourism destination in the country.” Sorry, no sale. And to think this is the sort of advice he sagely dispenses on Shark Tank. Meanwhile, he dismisses the path of less resistance, sport betting, as being “less interesting.” Showing his naiveté about the casino biz, Cuban claims “the revenue from it will be incredible. I would guess it would be far beyond what any other state would generate.” Would someone remind this guy that Nevada—with hundreds of casinos—takes in $1 billion a month? And newcomer Texas is going to surpass that … with eight resorts? Stick to jobbing the refs, Cubes.

Shreveport’s future

Jottings: “Don’t be fooled by arguments about fancy, expensive ventilation systems. When a cigarette is lit three feet in front of our faces, the smoke must go through us before it reaches any filtration device. Our lungs are the ventilation systems,” wrote casino employees opposed to a planned reinstatement of indoor smoking in Shreveport. If approved, it would be yet another lurch back toward the mid-20th century, when workers had fewer rights and lung cancer was regarded as akin to a venereal disease … Century Casinos liquidated the real estate of its four Alberta casinos in a $165 million deal with Vici Properties. Century will remain as operator and tenant … Caesars Entertainment‘s temporary casino in Danville was mobbed at opening, with long lines of gamblers queuing up to have a flutter. Sensitive to the crowd’s priorities, local politicians kept their remarks mercifully brief … Caesars has also been cleared to open the temporary iteration of eventual Harrah’s Columbus in Nebraska. The $75 million permanent casino will, once built, deploy 20 table games and 500 slot machines … Jeff Gural continues to hold jobs hostage at money-losing Vernon Downs. He blames the racino’s poor performance on Covid-19 which, as excuses go, is so 2021 …

Cost creep continues to afflict the MSG Sphere. The budget for the bloated boondoggle has now inched up to $2.3 billion. A hundred million here, a hundred million there, pretty soon it’ll be real money … How could Atlantic City room prices escalate 25% more last year than 2019 despite 5% less demand? It’s not the invisible hand of the free market, say two New Jersey citizens, but the not-so-fine mitt of price-fixing. They’ve filed a lawsuit to get their own back … Defenders of gas stoves have an ally in chef/philanthropist José Andres. He sued Palo Alto to be allowed to cook with gas at his new Zaytinya and got City Hall to back off … You can’t keep a good man down: Former MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren has been named CEO of Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Murren certainly knows the luxury demographic so we think this will be a good fit.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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