December 2018
Ten Months in, 2018 is Looking Good

October 2018 was another good month for the gaming industry nationwide, with total gaming revenue up 5.46 percent to $3.574 billion. 2018 has been a good year thus far, with casino and VLT revenue up 3.4 percent to $35.408 billion. The only negative factor in October was the calendar: there was one less Sunday this year as compared to October 2017, a minus 0.73 percent theoretical impact on gaming revenues.
 
The trends this month are the same as they have been from much of the year: more casinos and VLTs and the expansion of sports betting, which is now legal in Mississippi, New Jersey, and West Virginia. The numbers from sports betting are not huge, but the wagering did make a difference. The economy is also doing its part. Heading toward the Thanksgiving weekend, the American Automobile Association said, “Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth.” More jobs and more money to spend has been the situation all year.
October 2018 Casino and VLT Revenue:
 
Atlantic City gaming revenues rose 15.8% to $239.0 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Colorado casino revenue fell 0.46% to $67.2 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Delaware gaming revenue fell 16.3% to $27.2 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Detroit casino revenues rose 2.9% to $115.9 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Florida VLT revenue rose 3.37% to $44.3 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Illinois gaming revenues rose 6.3% to $240.6 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Indiana gaming revenue fell 2.3% to $176.9 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Iowa casino revenues fell 0.5% t o $117.8 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Kansas gaming revenue rose 0.13% to $31.68 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Kentucky historic racing machine revenue rose 85% to$11.8 million. Racing Commission, 11-18
 
Louisiana gaming revenue fell 3.49% to $236.4 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Maine gaming revenue rose 4.6% to $11.2 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Maryland gaming revenue rose 18.54% to $157.9 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Massachusetts gaming revenue rose 163% to $35.1 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Mississippi gaming revenues rose 6.45% to $167.2 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Missouri gaming revenues rose 0.72% to $138.0 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Nevada gaming revenue rose 7.7% to $1.062 billion.  Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
New York VLT revenue rose 5.9% to $207.7 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Ohio gaming revenues rose 2.97% to $149.9 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Pennsylvania gaming revenue fell 3.48% to $252.7 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Rhode Island gaming revenue rose 6.8% to $53.7 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
South Dakota gaming revenue rose 6.9% to $29.0 million. Gaming Commission, 11-18
 
Total gaming revenue for October rose 5.44% to $3.573 billion. David Rohn, 12-18
 
Year-to-date gaming revenue rose 3.43% to $35.408 billion. David Rohn, 12-18

 
The Other categories:
 
Macau gaming revenue rose 2.6% to $3.38 billion. Bloomberg, 11-1-18
 
Connecticut slot win fell 10.5% to $76.9 million. Norwich Bulletin, 11-15-18
 
Adams Gaming Index fell 7.9% to 464.21 CDC Newsroom, 11-1-18
 
Dow Jones Industrial fell 6.0% to 25,027.07 Yahoo Finance, 10-31-18
Across the Country...

Atlantic City i s having, if not the time of its life, at least its best time since Pennsylvania casinos opened in 2006-2007. Atlantic City now has it all: new casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. Revenues in Atlantic City were up 15.8 percent to $239.1 million in October. That’s still a long way from the pre-Pennsylvania days - Atlantic City casinos generated $415.5 million in October 2006. But the increase is significant nevertheless, especially in light of over ten years of declining revenues. Online gaming revenues were up 30 percent to $26.8 million in October; Hard Rock ($23.7 million) and Ocean Resorts ($13.0 million) brought in $36.8 million in casino win; and sports betting added $11.7 million to the total. As a downside, revenue from the seven casinos that were operating last October was down 11.8 percent compared to a year earlier, with only the Tropicana reporting an increase for the month. For the third quarter, profits for those seven casinos were down by 15.3 percent. So much of the revenue from the two new casinos is coming at the expense of the existing ones; still, overall, the picture is good.
 
Maryland continues to show significant growth, driven mostly by MGM National Harbor. Statewide casino win was up 18.6 percent, with MGM up 41 percent to $73.4 million. The state’s number two casino, Live!, reported a 2.6 percent increase to $47.0 million; the up-and-down Horseshoe Baltimore was up 7.6 percent to $21.0 million; Ocean Downs was up 15.8 percent to $6.1 million; and only Rocky Gap (-3.8%) and Hollywood (-1.4%) reported declines in casino win. Horseshoe and Live! struggled in 2017, the first year MGM was open, but now seemed to have reached equilibrium, even showing some growth.
 
New York’s gaming revenue, like that of Maryland, is being aided by a new casino, Resorts World Catskills, which opened in February. New York casino win was up 52 percent to $44.2 million, with Resorts World adding $12.3 million of the increase. But the other three casinos were still up 10 percent in October, which is impressive. Rivers Casino, which opened in early 2017 and cost $900 million less than Resorts, is outperforming Resorts by a pretty significant margin: slot win per day per machine in October for Rivers was $236, while Resorts was only $102. New York’s VLT revenue was down 2.2 percent to $163.5 million; of the 18,494 VLTs in New York state, 5,000 are at Aqueduct Racetrack’s Resorts World Casino New York City.
 
Massachusetts also has a new casino, MGM Springfield. MGM generated $22.2 million in gross gaming revenue in October, raising the state’s total by 163 percent compared to 2017, when only Plainridge Park racino was operating in the state. Plainridge had $13.5 million in slot win, down 0.7 percent for the month. While MGM may be taking a little business from Plainridge, it is hitting the casinos across the border in Connecticut much harder: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun were down 10.5 percent. The competition between MGM and the two Indian casinos is creating a marketing war of the highest order. Over time, margins are likely to be down as much or more than slot win.
 
Illinois, by contrast, does not have a new casino, but it does have 2,554 more VLTs than last year. It was a good month overall for the Land of Lincoln, with combined casino and VLT revenues up 6.3 percent. However, it was not a good month for the state’s casinos: casino revenue was down 1.5 percent to $112.7 million, admissions were down 5.5 percent to 882,790, and year-to-date admission were down 7.5% to 9,149,989. While the casinos are loosing customers and revenue, the VLTs are gaining units and revenue. VLT revenue was up 14.3 percent to $127.8 million, with the number of VLTs increasing by 9 percent to 30,396.
 
Rhode Island was up 6.8 percent, due in large part to the relocation of the Newport Grand, which moved to Tiverton. Tiverton’s revenues increase a whopping 134 percent to $8.9 million. By comparison, Twin River has 3,000 more slot machines and has more than four times the revenue of Tiverton. Twin Rivers was down 0.45 percent in October, about what one might expect given there was one less Sunday.
 
Starting this month, Kentucky is listed on the national chart, for two reasons. First, the state is now regularly reporting the revenue from the historic racing machine. Second, in September in Louisville, Churchill Downs opened Derby City Gaming, a $65 million property with 900 games. Churchill Downs has said for years that it was not going to enter the historic racing machine business until the technology improved to where the games could be expected to produce slot-like results. Historic racing machines revenue in October rose 89% to $9.7 million. Machines increased 53 percent to 2,734; win per day per machine was about $114. So Kentucky has found a way to get into casino gaming without admitting to it.
 
Mississippi also had an exceptional October, though the comparison is to an October of a year ago when the casinos were recovering from a difficult hurricane season; in addition, Mississippi casinos now have sports betting. The revenue for river casinos increased 9.3 percent to $69.0 million; the costal casino win was $98.2 million, up 4.5 percent. It is an unusual month when the river casinos show growth, because they are under siege from neighboring states, while the costal casinos’ primary enemy has been the weather. In October 2004, the year before Katrina, the costal casinos reported $122.5 million in revenue.
 
Louisiana did have some difficult weather and it is still feeling the effects of the smoking ban in Baton Rouge, and probably the sports betting in Mississippi. Louisiana had a significant decrease in combined slot, casino, and VLT revenue in October, down 3.49 percent. Except for VLTs, every major category reported less revenue than in 2017. VLT win was up 5.8 percent to $48.3 million, while the riverboat casinos were down 3.8 percent to $140.3 million, with admissions down 3.9 percent. The major culprit was the smoking ban in Baton Rouge, but the Lake Charles casinos were also down. Harrah’s New Orleans was down 9.3 percent to $22.3 million, but admissions were actually up 0.7 percent; the slots-at-the-tracks’ win was $25.4 million, down 8.3 percent. Admissions at the tracks were 272,267, down 24 percent from 2017.
 
Pennsylvania is beginning to show signs of wear. The casinos are more than 10 years old; in that decade, casinos have popped up in neighboring Ohio and New York. New York in particular is having a significant impact, especially on the Sands Bethlehem. The Sands table games were down 15.9 percent and slots were down 7.67 percent; total revenue was down 11.3 percent to $38.6 million. Mohegan Sun, Harrah’s, Hollywood, and Mount Airy were all down as well. The state’s number one revenue producer, Parx Casino, was up 4.1 percent to $47.1 million. Next door in Ohio, revenue from the state’s four casinos was flat at $66.6 million, while racinos continue an upward trend: in October the seven racinos were up 6.7 percent to $83.4 million.
 
Nevada recorded over $1 billion in casino win in October, for the 40 th time in the state’s history. The Las Vegas Strip was up 12.2 percent to $593.5 million, with blackjack up 56 percent to $102.6 million. But Las Vegas had an easy comparison with 2017 - last October the Strip was trying to get past the mass shooting that killed 58 people. In October the Las Vegas airport had a record 4.4 million passengers and the highway traffic into Vegas was up 7.4 percent. In the rest of Nevada, downtown Vegas up 0.3 percent, the Boulder Strip was down 0.6 percent, Laughlin was up 12.2 percent, and Reno was down 2.7 percent. Statewide table games and slots were both up, table games by 40 percent to $125.5 million and slots by 5.5 percent to $693.5 million. Sports was down 6.3 percent to $29.5 million
 
With ten months on the books, 2018 is certain to be another good year for gaming ; so far, combined casino and VLT revenue is up 3.4 percent. The growth is the result of expanded capacity and new gambling options, a trend that will continue at least through 2019. Next year will see new casinos in Pennsylvania, further expansion of sports betting, and most likely that relentless increase in VLTs in Illinois. Four more states - Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia - are also going to be adding capacity and options. If I were a betting man, I would lay odds that revenue growth will continue all the way through 2020, providing we are not hit with a recession. But watching the swings of stocks on Wall Street can still make a person very nervous.
This report is written by Ken Adams