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March 2018
The Dark Days of Winter Are Receding 
 
March was a good month for gaming. Nationally, total gaming revenue was $3.837 billion, up 4.89 percent compared to a year ago. The month was good for gaming almost everywhere except for casinos in Atlantic City and Illinois and table games in Pennsylvania. For the rest of the country the sun finally came out after some pretty dark days in December, January, and February.
 
Illinois is still marching to the video lottery terminal drummer, which is not good news for the casinos in that state. Weather was identified as a possible factor for Atlantic City and Pennsylvania. "I don't know what impact the weather had, but four nor'easters in March sure didn't help Atlantic City's casinos," said James Plousis, the head of New Jersey's Casino Control Commission.
 
The calendar added to the positive conditions in March: this year there were five Fridays and Saturdays, compared to only four Saturdays in 2017; the extra Saturday theoretically is worth a 2.55 percent increase. The rest of growth might be attributed to cabin fever and pent up demand after the bad winter weather, and to the national economy. The economy is still relatively healthy even though the stock market is down nearly ten percent from its all-time high of 26,616.71 on January 26, 2018.
 
For the first three months of 2018, national gaming revenues were $10.456 billion, up 1.85 percent compared to 2017.


March 2018 Casino and VLT Revenue:
 Atlantic City gaming revenues fell 1.5% to $218.5 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Colorado casino revenue rose 8.2% to $77.5 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Detroit casino revenues rose 5.7% to $138.6 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Florida slot revenue rose 0.36% to $54.9 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Illinois casino gaming revenues rose 8.9% to $272.1 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Indiana gaming revenue rose 4.5% to $221.0 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Iowa casino revenues rose 3.6% to $141.9 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Kansas gaming revenue rose 16.3% to $39.8 million. Racing and Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Louisiana gaming revenue rose 6.9% to $311.1 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Maine gaming revenue rose 14.7% to $13.2 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Maryland gaming revenue rose 6.3% to $150.0 million. Baltimore Sun, 4-5-18
 
Massachusetts gaming revenue was rose 12.05% $15.83 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Mississippi gaming revenues rose 0.54% to $202.2 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Missouri gaming revenues rose 3% to $168.3 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Nevada gaming revenue rose 3.4% to $1.024 billion. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
New York casino/VLT revenue rose 13.0% to $233.6 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Ohio gaming revenue rose 9.3% to $178.1 million. Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4-7-18
 
Pennsylvania gaming revenue rose 3.8% to $300.5 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
Rhode Island gaming revenue rose 1.4% to $47.5 million. Gaming Commission, 4-18
 
South Dakota gaming revenue rose 2% to $29.3 million. Gaming Commission/Lottery Commission, 4-18
 
Total gaming revenue rose 4.89% to $3.837 million. David Rohn, 5-1-18

The Other categories:
 
Macau gaming revenue rose 22.2% to $3.2 billion. Reuters, 4-1-18
 
Connecticut slot win rose 7.78% to $98.4 million. Hartford Business, 4-16-18
 
Kentucky historical racing machine win rose 26.3% to $8.9 million. Racing Commission, 4-18
 
Adams Index rose 1.8% to 532.42. CDC Newsroom, 3-18
 
Dow Jones Industrials fell 3.7% to close at 24,103.11. Yahoo, 3-31-18
 
Walmart fell 1.1% to close at 88.97. Yahoo, 3-31-18
 
Good and Bad news

The one jurisdiction to report an overall decrease in revenues was Atlantic City, with March being the third consecutive month of decline: 9.9 percent in January, 6.5 percent in February, and 1.5 percent in January. On the bright side, internet gaming has continued to grow significantly month after month; in March, it was up 17 percent to $25 million.
 
The real story in Atlantic City is the decline of visitors. It hosted over 30 million people per year from 1987 until 2010. Visitor count peaked in 2005 at 35 million, one year before Pennsylvania introduced slot machines. In 2017, 24.1 million people visited Atlantic City, a decrease of 1.2 percent from 2016. The 24.1 million was smallest number of gamblers coming to the city since 1982. It will take a great of gambling online to make up for the 11 million people who no longer come to gamble on the Boardwalk because they have other choices closer to home.
 
The results for casinos in Illinois in March are not unlike Atlantic City's. Overall revenues in Illinois were up, but that was driven by VLT revenue, up 19.2 percent to $142.8 million. There were 28,992 VLTs in Illinois in March, an increase of 3,000 over the previous year. Revenue at the state's 10 riverboats fell by 1.7 percent to $128.3 million. But, as with Atlantic City, the real story is the number of visitors. A total of 997,749 entered a casino in March, down 6.2 percent from 2017. And that number is down 28.6 percent from the 1,397,559 people who went to an Illinois casino in March 2013, the last year that there were no VLTs in the state. The revenue drain created by VLTs will definitely continue to haunt casinos in the Land of Lincoln.
 
Maryland has everything going its way at the moment. March was a record month, with $150.1 million in casino win, an increase of 6.3%. The newest casino, MGM National Harbor, has dominated since it opened. In March it generated $60.4 million, 40 percent of the state's total. With its win up 17.9 percent. Live! (Formerly Maryland Live!) was second with $47 million, up 0.9 percent. Horseshoe Baltimore did $24.8 million in revenue, down 7.8 percent from 2017. Both Horseshoe and Live! are adding amenities and ramping up their marketing efforts to match MGM, which certainly will be an uphill battle. But no new competition will be entering the market in the near future, so the worst of the loss of market share is probably over for both Live! and the Horseshoe.
 
New York has another new casino, its fourth. The new casino will drive up the numbers in the state just as the other new casinos did last year. Resorts Catskills in its first full month generated $14.4 million in casino revenue. The total revenue for the four casinos in New York was up 45 percent to $46.7 million. But Genting's $1.3 billion investment in Resorts Catskills should generate more that $14 million monthly; that figure cannot be seen as anything but disappointing. By comparison, MGM spent $1.2 billion on MGM National Harbor in Maryland, which generated $50 million its first full month.
 
The VLTs in New York have remained healthy throughout the casino expansion, which included, besides four non-Indian casinos opening in the last two years, three new Indian casinos. The $186.9 million in win produced by the VLTs in March, up 6.9 percent from 2017, is very good, even with the majority of the increase being attributable to additional units (the total of 18,478 VLTs in March increased by 800 units, 4.3 percent).
 
Louisiana and Mississippi had mixed results. In Louisiana every market was up except Baton Rouge, which fell 8 percent to $27.3 million. New Orleans was up 10.7 percent, Lake Charles up 16.3 percent, Shreveport-Bossier City up 1.5 percent, and VLTs up 3.7 percent. In Mississippi, casino win was up slightly, less than one percent. On the coast, the casinos were up a mere 0.36 percent. The river counties were up 1.5 percent, but the northern river counties were down 2.5 percent. Both the up and down percentages in Mississippi are very small, but when the 2.55 percentage for an extra Saturday is considered, March was not good to Mississippi. But Louisiana significantly exceeded the additional weekend day factor with gaming revenues up 6.9 percent.
 
In Massachusetts, Plainridge Park Casino is still the only casino in the state. That racino will remain in sole possession of the market until August, when MGM Springfield is scheduled to open. The two-casino situation will then remain until the newly renamed Encore in Boston Harbor opens, now scheduled for June 2019. In the meantime, Plainridge Park is doing well; March was its second best month, 12 percent higher than 2017.
 
March was the best month ever for gaming in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Ohio both the casinos and the racinos set records, the four casinos with $81.7 million in win and the seven racinos with $96.4 million. In Pennsylvania, the twelve casinos had a combined slot and table game win of over $300.5 million, a 3.8 percent increase over March 2017. Slot machine win was up 5.4 percent to $221.4 million, but the table games fell 0.48 percent to $79.2 million. The drop in table game revenue, reported on April 17 th, prompted an official to blame the weather, saying people could not get out to play. (Perhaps the positive slot results, released on April 2 nd, had been forgotten, fifteen days later?)
 
For the 38 th time in its 83-year casino history, Nevada reported another month of over $1 billion in revenue. Gaming win in Nevada in March was $1.024 billion, up 3.4 percent. The win was driven, as usual, by the Strip, which itself was powered by baccarat. The Strip was up 9.1 percent to $573.9 million, with the increase being entirely from baccarat - up 114.8 percent to $116.7 million. On the other side of the coin, Downtown Las Vegas was off 14.2 percent to $54 million and North Las Vegas and the Boulder Strip also were down for the month. According to local media, the downtown's decline could be attributed to the closure of the Lucky Dragon.
 
In the rest of the Silver State, casino revenue was up, except for the south shore of Lake Tahoe, which was off by 12.8 percent. Washoe County was up 2.1 percent to $70.5 million, Churchill Country up 0.75 percent, Wendover was up 9.4 percent, but the rest of the Elko County was down 2.6 percent. But probably the most telling number in Nevada is the slot win; slots fell 1.8 percent to $643.3 million. If the extra day is factored into the slot results, slot machines in Nevada clearly did not have a good month in March even when the weather improved compared to the first two months of the year.
 
As important as the Strip and baccarat are, the total slot win in Nevada is more significant; slots are a better barometer of the health of the gaming industry in Nevada. The Strip and baccarat are the product of a few high rollers - when they win, the state loses; when they lose, the state wins. But slot play reflects the mass-market, appealing to the average gambler, with 141,336 slot machines in 316 locations in the state. (For the curious, that's roughly one machine for every 20 residents.) Total slot win fluctuates less than baccarat because it is spread over so many devices and locations, so a 1.8 percent decrease can't be shrugged off as a random thing. In short, that the state saw over $1 billion in gaming revenues in March may not be a good reason to celebrate, because the main engine - slots - isn't doing so well.
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