Atlantic City's combined casino and online gaming win was down 5.1 percent in May. The decrease was at the casinos, with casino revenue down 7.2 percent to $193.4 million; online revenues were up 15.3 percent to $24.3 million. Although online gaming is likely to continue to increase month-over-month for at least another year, the rate of growth is slowing down. The casinos are still struggling under the weight of out-of-state competition, even though casino revenue has been up at times in the last twelve month. Still, there is no white knight on the horizon for Atlantic City casinos, although with two new casinos opening at the end of June, the total win should go up each month for the next year. However, the majority of the increase will be at the expense of the other seven existing casinos. The big question for Atlantic City's future is the new Hard Rock casino - if that can grow the market, there is hope. Also, beginning in July we will start to see some numbers from sports betting; that may or may not turn out to be significant.
Detroit's casinos had a good May, with revenue up 4 percent. Those casinos had a rare month with no competition from across the border in Canada, with Caesar Windsor closed due to a labor strike. But Caesars reopened on June 7
th, ending a nearly 60-day strike and its revenue gift to Detroit.
The narrative for
Illinois is the same it has been since video lottery terminals became legal: more VLTs mean higher total VLT revenue and less potential revenue for the state's casinos. In May there were 28,958 VLTs in Illinois, an increase of 8.9 percent compared to May 2017; those games produced $125.0 million in win, an increase of 13.4 percent. Casino win was up a mere $300,000 to $120.7 million, but admissions were down 7.3 percent to 931,135.
Indiana casinos were down less than one percent, which seems to indicate that, except for the increasing number of VLTs in Illinois, the Indiana market is stabilizing. The only major factor that can still upset this particular apple cart is the weather, but with the end to the snow, ice, and flooding seasons, the weather should not impact casino revenue until sometime in the late fall or early winter at the earliest. However, the general manager of the Horseshoe in Hammond thinks good weather can keep players outside enjoying the sun, saying "The good weather really affected Memorial Day weekend." There is one other complicating factor in Indiana: the Four Winds Indian casino in South Bend, which opened in January. Its revenue numbers are not public, so it is impossible gauge its impact on the other casinos.
Louisiana passed legislation to allow its river casinos to move onto land. In time that is certain to have a positive impact on casinos in the Bayou State and a negative impact on Mississippi. The casinos in Louisiana need something, because even when the revenue is up, admissions aren't rising. In May casino revenue was up 1.3 percent to $222.4 million and admissions were down 2.5 percent to 2,552,492. The revenue at Shreveport was up 1.1 percent, Lake Charles had a 4 percent increase, and the three casinos in Baton Rouge was down 9 percent,. A recent smoking ban in Baton Rouge is being blamed for some of the decline in that city. Harrah's New Orleans was up 6.7 percent to $26.9 million, and appears to have recovered from that city's smoking ban; a year ago casino management said the first two years of the smoking ban cost the casino $74 million in gaming revenue.
Mississippi gaming win was up 7 percent, driven as usual by the coastal casinos, up 11 percent to $96 million; the river county casinos were down 1 percent to $73 million. The casinos in Mississippi got some good news in June, when sports betting was approved in the state; the first sports book may be taking wagers as soon as July. That will give Mississippi a slight edge over its competitors, such as Louisiana, at least in the short-term.
Maryland is having the best year of any state with casino gaming, with revenues up significantly every month so far this year. In May revenues were up 14.7 percent, with all casinos reporting an increase in win for the first time since December 2016, when MGM National Harbor opened. MGM has a 40 percent market share in the state; it generated $62.3 million for the month, an increase of 23.2 percent. Live! was second with $52 million, up 13.4 percent, and the property opened a $200 million hotel, which should help it maintain its market share in the future. The Baltimore Horseshoe was up 2 percent to $24.1 million, its first increase in 18 months. Those three major properties produce 88 percent of Maryland's gaming win.
New York, like Maryland, is consistently up over 2017 due to an additional casino, although the dollar increase is much less than in Maryland. The state's VLTs are also having a good year, with revenue up 1.6 percent in May, to $180.9 million. That increase may be small, but in the face of four new casinos in New York, the VLTs are more than holding their own. The win from the four commercial casinos was up 48 percent ($14.3 million) in May, $13.3 million of which came from the newest casino, Resorts Catskills. Resorts is still underperforming on a "cost to build" basis; on that basis, it should be generating nearly as much as MGM National Harbor. Still, in New York $13 million is not a bad number, but it is coming at the expense of casinos in other states.
Pennsylvania, the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem is one of the casinos being impacted by the Catskills casino. The Sands has traditionally been the leader in Pennsylvania for table game play, but since Resorts opened, Sands has seen its lead decreased significantly. In May Sands reported a 9.67 percent decrease in table game revenue to $19.6 million, while slots were up 1.9 percent to $27 million. The Sands has had an advantage over the other casinos in Pennsylvania due to its proximity to the New York City table game players, which is why table games accounts for 42 percent of the casino's win.
Parx, in second place in Pennsylvania, had a table game increase of 12 percent to $16 million, with slot win at $35 million, the best in the state. Overall table game revenue in Pennsylvania was up 0.67 percent to $74.9 million. Alot revenue was up 0.37 percent to $203.9 million, with casinos having 252 fewer slot machines in 2018 than 2017. The combined total was up 0.4 percent to $278.9 million.
Ohio's casinos had a month much like the casinos in Indiana and Illinois. Revenue was up 2.2 percent at the racinos, to $84.8 million, while casino revenue was down 2.1 percent to $68.7 million. The decline in casino win was due to the 10.5 percent drop at Jack's Cleveland, to $15.6 million in revenue. The company blames in-house construction and its own racino just 12 miles away.
Nevada had a good May, with total revenue up 5.3 percent, to more than a billion dollars. Slot revenue was up 3.5 percent to $670.2 million; table games were up 14.5 percent to $373.8 million. The table game revenue was driven by a 20 percent increase in baccarat win to $120.8 million; blackjack win was down 7.3 percent to $102.7 million. Sports betting was up a whopping 590% to $20.5 million, with the biggest change coming from baseball. Poker was up 2.8 percent to $9.1 million. Regionally, the Strip was up 6.3 percent to $581.5, thanks to baccarat. Downtown Las Vegas fell 3.5 percent and Boulder Strip was off 0.2 percent. Washoe County was up 7.1 percent to $73.1 million, the North Shore of Lake Tahoe was up 25.1 percent, and the South Shore was up 1.1 percent to $18.1 million.
There is an anomaly this month: the revenue from
Florida is missing, because the state's website has not been updated since April numbers were posted. The gaming commissions in
Rhode Island and
South Dakota, as well as Florida, do not take reporting as seriously as the other states do. That makes it difficult to create a complete picture of the health of the entire industry in any given month. However, the numbers in those states are so small that they do not have a significant impact on the national results, so we forge ahead without them.
With revenue up by over four percent,
May makes a good barometer for 2018. When the calendar and the weather are taken out of the equation, what is left is a solid national economy and the impact of new casinos in New York and Maryland and the continued growth of VLTs in Illinois. Two new casinos in June in Atlantic City and one new casino in August in Massachusetts will be added to the "extenuating" factors in the narrative for the rest of 2018.
The year-to-date numbers for 2018 give even more clarity to the overall picture. For the first five months of the year, gaming revenues nationally were up 2.81 percent to $17.58 billion. So all of the stars are in alignment in 2018 for the gaming industry, if one does not look to deeply into the individual jurisdiction. If one does, it's clearly still a jungle out there, albeit a slowly-changing one.