Does PA Land-Based Gambling Have Anywhere Else To Expand?

Written By Martin Derbyshire on April 23, 2018 - Last Updated on June 7, 2022
Bassett Hound in small basket

Are Pennsylvania casino operators finally willing to admit the casino market in the Northeast has become saturated?

The fact none of them bid in the latest mini-casino license action held by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week suggest they may be.

It appears now only five of the 10 mini-casino licenses available will be snatched up by existing operators. Could it be that the industry has finally taken a good look in the mirror and realized building more casinos only serves to splinter existing gambling revenues rather than increase them?

The local casino industry in PA remains successful for now, having just posted over $300 million in monthly revenue for the first time ever in March. However, one look around at the huge number of new casinos suddenly popping up across the Northeast and it’s easy to see market saturation is either here now, or right around the corner.

New NY  casinos miss projections

Neighboring New York approved the opening of four new commercial casinos over the past 16 months. First, in December 2016, Tioga Downs racino in Nichols, NY was converted into a full commercial casino. Operators projected $103 million in revenue in the first year. It ultimately fell close to $30 million short.

Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, NY and del Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre, NY both opened in February 2017. Rivers was projected to pull in $222 million in revenue during its inaugural year, but missed by some $80 million. Del Lago figured on hitting $263 million in year one but ended up $100 million short of projections.

Both casinos have since asked the state for help in turning things around. However, the state seems unwilling. It certainly can’t stop the construction of even more casinos in other states across the Northeast, or help to create the new gamblers needed to fill them. Perhaps lawmakers have deemed the situation hopeless.

The $1.2 billion Resorts World Catskills also opened in Monticello, NY in March. Tourist season in the area has yet to start. Plus, it’s really too early to tell, but all signs indicate revenues will be on pace with Rivers and Del Lago. This despite projections they would be significantly bigger.

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More new casinos across the Northeast

There’s another two renovated and re-branded gambling operations set to open in Atlantic City, New Jersey this summer too. That’s Revel turned Ocean Resort Casino and Trump Taj Mahal turned Hard Rock Atlantic City. Plus, the entire Northeast gambling establishment will soon be joined by the billion-dollar MGM Springfield. It is set to launch in Massachusetts in September.

Add it up and clearly, if the market isn’t saturated yet, it will be by the time those facilities all open.

Back in PA, there will be at least five new mini-casinos open before long. Maybe even a sixth, as the gaming board is considering holding at least one more licensing auction. Plus, construction of a new sports-arena area casino in Philadelphia is underway and expected to be done by 2020.

The PA casino industry showed signs it understands it might run out of gamblers before these new facilities are built. But it may just be too late. Casino construction continues the rest of the Northeast casino industry still seems unwilling to admit it.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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