October 2018
An Extra Friday, Sports Betting, and New Casinos
Make for a Stellar August

The stars were indeed in alignment in August. There was one more Friday this year than last, legal sports betting has started in New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia; and there are new casinos in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Nationally, combined VLT and casino revenue was up 4.5 percent in August, compared to a year ago, to $3.508 billion; year-to-date it is up 3.1 percent to $28.254 billion.
 
In August, only Nevada reported less revenue than the a year earlier. And except for Nevada, every state reported more than the 2.0 percent increase that the extra Friday could be expected to produce. The economy helped, but the gaming industry outperformed the economy. Expanded gaming options in five states is the explanation for the increases in those five jurisdictions; for the rest of country, mark it up to the stars and planets falling in line.
August 2018 Casino and VLT Revenue:

Atlantic City gaming revenues rose 24.1% to $303.9 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Colorado casino revenue rose 6.4 to $75.4 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Detroit casino revenues rose 7.9% to $120.4 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Florida VLT revenue rose 9.5% to $41.9 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Illinois gaming revenues rose 9.8% to $245.5 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Indiana gaming revenue rose 7.7% to $177.7 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Iowa casino revenues rose 4.1% to $126.8 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Kansas gaming revenue rose 8.5% to $34.3 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Louisiana gaming revenue rose 8.8% to $261.5 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Maine gaming revenue rose 19.3% to $14.2 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Maryland gaming revenue rose 6.4% to $146.2 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Massachusetts gaming revenue rose 74.6% to $24.8 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Mississippi gaming revenues rose 8% to $181.6 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Missouri gaming revenues rose 6% to $151.1 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Nevada gaming revenue fell 7.7% to $912.9 million.  Associated Press, 9-27-18
 
New York gaming revenue rose 13.5% to $226.7 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Ohio gaming revenue rose 8.3% to $157.7 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Pennsylvania gaming revenues rose 2.82% to $275.0 million.  Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Rhode Island gaming revenue rose 5.4% to $42.4 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
South Dakota gaming revenue rose 4.0% to $30.7 million. Gaming/Lottery Commission, 9-18
 
Total gaming revenue rose 4.57% to $3.508 billionDavid Rohn, October 2018
 
 
The Other categories:
 
Macau gaming revenue rose 17.0% to $3.3 billion . Reuters, 9-1-18
 
Connecticut slot revenue rose 2.4% to $94.7 million. Gaming Commission, 9-18
 
Kentucky historic racing machines rose 24.9% to $8.0 million. Racing Commission, 9-18
 
The Dow rose 2.1% to 25,964.82. Yahoo Finance, 9-1-18
 
Adams Index fell 7.9% to 504.51. CDC Gaming Reports, 9-1-18

New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts,
New York, and Illinois

New Jersey and the casinos in Atlantic City were the recipients of all of the positive factors in play during the month. Casino revenue was up $46.3 million, driven by the addition of $50.4 million in win from two new casinos, Hard Rock and Ocean Resort. That revenue did come at a cost to some of the existing casinos: Bally’s, Harrah’s, Resorts, and Tropicana had a combined $5.3 million less in revenues. Internet gaming was up 17 percent to $24.8 million and sports betting added another $5 million. Together with a 2 percent theoretical increase for an extra Friday, all of the factors combined to give Atlantic City the best month it has had in years.
 
Maryland is stabilizing - the growth in gaming revenue is slowing as MGM National Harbor matures. MGM once again topped the state’s revenue list with $58.3 million in casino win, but the increase over 2017 slowed, to 10.3 percent. Live! had a $47 million win, up 5.1 percent. The ever-struggling Baltimore Horseshoe was down 3.7 percent to $21 million. The other three casinos also recorded increases, with the largest, 19 percent, at Ocean Downs, which added table games in January. Overall, Maryland’s expansion-driven increase in revenue has just about run its course.
 
On the other hand, Massachusetts is just getting started on its growth chart. MGM Springfield opened on August 24 th , generating $9.5 million in its first week. Even with the new competition, Plainridge Park was up $1 million to $15.4 million, probably helped by a positive calendar and the enthusiasm for gambling that MGM generated in the weeks leading up to its opening. The two properties are not really comparable: MGM is a full casino located in larger metropolitan area, while Plainridge Park is a racino with a more remote location. Still, Plainridge has shown continual growth since it opened in 2015. September will give a better idea of the impact of MGM on Plainridge and the true potential of the new casino.
 
New York is the third state with more casinos in August 2018 than in 2017, with Resorts Catskills having opened in February. It generated $14.9 million in gaming revenue in August. Overall, revenues for the state’s four non-Indian casinos revenue were $49.4 million, a sharp increase from the $29.3 million for three casinos in 2017. The state’s VLT win rose 4.1 percent to $177.3 million; the total of casino and VLT revenue was up 13.5 percent from last year.
 
Like New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts, Illinois continues to report more total revenue due to more gaming options. In August, the win for VLTs in Illinois was up 17 percent to $127.2 million, driven by a 9 percent increase in VLTs, to 29,709 units. Casino revenue was up 2.5 percent to $118.3 million, about what might be expected with the extra Friday, but admissions were down 3 percent to 959,606, also an ongoing trend.
Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the minor states

Although total revenue was up in Pennsylvania , the news was not all good. The 2.8 percent improvement was barely equal to the expected 2 percent due to the extra Friday. Slots were up 4.4 percent to $210.7 million, but table game win was down 1.33 percent to $73.2 million. The decline was driven by a $1.3 million drop in table win at the Sands Bethlehem and a $2 million decrease at the Meadows. The drop in revenue from the Sands is part of a long-term trend of lower table game revenues (and, in some months, lower slot machine win as well) because of the casinos in New York. As Resorts Catskills in New York gets stronger, the impact on the Sands can be expected to get worse.
 
Louisiana had a good month in August in every category: VLTS, land-based and riverboat casinos, and slots at the tracks. The Bayou State’s 12, 995 VLTs were up 7.3 percent to $49.7 million; land-based Harrah’s New Orleans was up 7.5 percent to $22.9 million. The slot machines at the tracks were up 17 percent to $28.8 million, and the riverboats recorded a win of $160.1 million, an increase of 8.4 percent. Only one jurisdiction, Baton Rouge, reported a decrease of 9.8 percent, to $20.1 million; it continues to be impacted by recent legislation prohibiting smoking in casinos. Statewide admissions were up 4.1 percent to 2,488,206; but in Baton Rouge admissions fell 11.9 percent to 226,072.
 
In Mississippi , across the state line from Louisiana, casino win was up both on the coast and in the river counties. The costal casinos were up 10.5 percent to $108.7 million, while the river county casinos were up only 3.2 percent to $72.9 million.
 
Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, and South Dakota all reported increases in casino revenue above the expected 2 percent in August.
Nevada, the Gorilla

The single state that recorded less revenue in August 2018 than in 2017 was Nevada . In assessing the blame for Nevada’s poor performance, look no further than the famous Las Vegas Strip. Win on the Strip fell 12.4 percent to $477.9 million, a casualty of underperforming table games, which were down 19.2 percent. Blackjack fell 25.8 percent, craps 14.2 percent, roulette 18.5 percent, and baccarat was down 8.7 percent. The win from sports dropped 62.9 percent.
 
So, what happened? The simple answer is that nothing happened. Missing from the Strip this year was anything comparable to the Mayweather-McGregor prize fight of August 2017. In its place was nothing special to bring high-rolling fans to fill the hotel rooms, eat in the restaurants, and crowd around the table games, cheering and losing. But Nevada’s August was not part of a trend. Unless the entire economy goes in the tank, conditions in Las Vegas will still change monthly depending on events. The Strip is dependent on the games played by people attending events in town. When those tables are filled with enthusiastic gamblers all is well, but if for any reason those same gamblers fail to come, the entire state of Nevada feels the loss.
 
Nationally, gaming revenue from all states other than Nevada was up 9.7 percent compared to a year earlier. But Nevada is the bully in the room, pushing the rest of the country around. The $477 million in win from the Las Vegas Strip in August is more than any other state’s total revenue, by a considerable margin. So when the Strip is down significantly it affects the numbers for the entire nation.
 
Without or with Nevada, August was a very, very good month for gaming. And at least in the near-term, the forecast is for more of the same. There are new casinos, more VLTs. and expanding sports betting to continue to drive the numbers up. If Floyd Mayweather fought two or three times in Las Vegas this year, it would be an incredible year. But even without any Floyd fights at all, 2018 is on track to be a very a good year.

This report is written by Ken Adams