Pennsylvania soft; Gray Lady panics; Smooth criminal

Gambling revenues in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania slipped just a bit last month, as 2022 continued to go out mostly quietly. The $298 million haul was 1% off December 2021’s pace. While there was some softening of the market, we attribute that to continued saturation, as more mini-casinos continue to come on line. The biggest winner was Parx Casino with $48.5 million, but it was 5.5% down, which we chalk up to its (utterly praiseworthy) smoking ban. Close behind was Wind Creek Bethlehem, reporting $42 million and up 3%. Rivers Pittsburgh was third with $31.5 million, a 2% gain. Its immediate rivals also fared well, with Meadows Hollywood flat at $14 million and Pittsburgh Live hopping 5% to $10 million.

As for the cutthroat Philadelphia market, the plurality of Parx’s leftovers went to Rivers Philadelphia, jumping 10% to $20 million and narrowly besting arch rival Philadelphia Live ($19 million, +7.5%). The latter is now led, by the way, by new General Manager Craig Clark, his predecessor having moved to corporate HQ. Harrah’s Philadelphia lost business, slaloming 11% to $13 million, as did Valley Forge Resort Casino, down 3% to $11 million, albeit within striking distance of Harrah’s. Out in the boondocks, Mohegan Sun Pocono slid 11% to $16.5 million and Mount Airy jumped 8% to $14.5 million. Presque Isle Downs in Erie tumbled 10% to $8 million, Hollywood Penn National stumbled 12% to $14 million and Lady Luck Nemacolin plunged 21% to $1.5 million. Newbies fared well, with Hollywood York climbing 18% to $8 million and Hollywood Morgantown vaulting 105% (not a typo) to $5 million.

The Keystone State garnered another $134.5 million from Internet casinos. The Hollywood Casino catchall of DraftKings, Barstool Sports and BetMGM dominated the action with $60 million. BetRivers was a plucky second with $28.5 million. Sports betting generated $87 million of revenue on handle of $748 million. Wonders be, promotions fell to $16.5 million, suggesting that rationality is taking hold. Dollar amounts aren’t available but FanDuel had a 39% market share, followed by DraftKings’ 25%. Lagging considerably were BetMGM (8%), Barstool (7%) and Caesars Sportsbook (4%).

Sands Nassau

Our bushwa detector goes off when the New York Times weighs in on legalized gambling, as it did this morning. According to Nicholas Fandos, his New York City is “Gambling’s last big prize.” What’s Texas, chopped liver? Fandos midescribes the Big Apple as “the country’s last major untapped gambling market” and dutifully pronounces casino proposals “extravagant” (they’d better be if they want to get the nod). “Imagine roulette wheels perched above the women’s wear department at Saks Fifth Avenue. Blackjack by the boardwalk at Coney Island. Card games within spitting distance of the United Nations,” Fandos exaggerates. Chill out, Nick. It’s not gonna be like that and what other ranters project.

Fandos blames the casinos-in-Gotham derby on the pandemic, which stunted NYC revenues for a good two years. He cites the legalization in 2013 of upstate, private-sector casinos, supposedly a reaction to the Great Recession (but done a good four years later). Fandos snarks, “There is a long history of politicians from Nevada to Louisiana using gambling to try to stimulate the economy and boost public revenues.” (The nerve of them!) We must grudgingly concede his point that industry-generated revenue projections are probably hype as they werer in 2013. CBRE analyst John DeCree puts it just under $5 billion from three megaresorts. But the regional competitors Fandos alludes to would have more to fear from the convenience of casinos in the metropolitan area, alleviating the need for a jaunt to New Jersey or Connecticut. “We see New York City as an under-penetrated market even after expansion, with access to 19 million-plus people and favorable income metrics,” opined DeCree

Fandos also casts aspersions upon evil unions for the casino push, especially the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council. He sketches an unholy alliance between the council, the politicians who benefit from its largesse and the casino developers themselves. As for the latter, their proposals are said to be “heavy on amenities.” That could be a two-edged sword. Nobody wants slots in a box on Manhattan, but no place on Earth is so rich in non-casino amenities already and trying to suck the revenue out of the surrounding area with a catchall casino-resort is a good way to spark opposition.

Casinos in Las Vegas make invitingly soft targets, especially with a security posture so passive as to be prone. Small wonder then that Las Vegas Metro is foxed by the criminal behind a three-month spree of robberies at local gambling halls. Out of deference to Big Gaming, Metro is keeping the locations of the stickups out of the news but the suspect can hardly be inconspicuous: “He’s described as a black male about 6 foot 1 inch to 6 foot 3 inches and between 25 to 35 years old. He was seen wearing a black mask, hoodie and black gloves.” Yeah, just another customer who’d blend right into the crowd.

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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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