Making the News

Erie Times-News

Originally Published:Thursday, January 17, 2008

Presque Isle Downs generated $227 per slot machine per day during the quarter, according to Spectrum Gaming, a casino consulting and research firm based near Atlantic City, N.J.

"That's a number that many casino managers around the country would be happy with," said Michael Pollock, Spectrum's managing director.

Casino ahead of game
Presque Isle Downs, bringing in more cash than it expected, is ranked 21st on East Coast

By John Guerrerio
Erie Times-News

Presque Isle Downs & Casino is running in the middle of the pack of East Coast casinos for daily slots revenue.

The casino ranked 21st out of 40 casinos for slot revenue per machine between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, according to a new report.

Four of the state's six other casinos placed in the top five, led by the state's first casino, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, near Wilkes-Barre, which opened in November 2006.

Presque Isle Downs generated $227 per slot machine per day during the quarter, according to Spectrum Gaming, a casino consulting and research firm based near Atlantic City, N.J.

"That's a number that many casino managers around the country would be happy with," said Michael Pollock, Spectrum's managing director.


The dollar figure for Presque Isle Downs, which opened Feb. 28, is "a very respectable number that connotes a fairly profitable property."

While in the middle of the field, that number is higher than the preopening projections from the casino and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which regulates the state's casinos.

Before getting its license in 2006, the casino had estimate daily revenue per machine of $187, while the board had predicted $161.

And those figures were based on the year 2010, when the casino would have tweaked its operations or made bigger changes.

The daily per-machine revenue is the average amount of money left in a slot machine at the end of a day after winners have been paid. It's a universal statistic in the gambling industry for how well a casino performs.


Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs led the East Coast casinos with average daily revenue of $403 per machine, but the figure is based on an average of 1,203 slot machines. Presque Isle Downs is dividing its revenue among 2,000 slot machines.

Mohegan Sun plans to operate 2,500 machines when it opens a permanent casino in late summer.

But more slots do not always translate into less revenue per machine.

The Mohegan Sun in Connecticut came in second at $390 per machine, yet it operates 6,182 slot machines, the report said.

Three Pennsylvania casinos were next: Philadelphia Park at $369 for each of its 2,402 machines; the Meadows in Washington, Pa., at $347 for each of its 1,754 machines; and Harrah's Chester at $322 for each of its 2,790 machines.


The success of Pennsylvania casinos is cutting into the profits of Atlantic City casinos. Slot revenue fell 8.9 percent in 2007, compared with the prior year, though table-games revenue increased by 3 percent, the Associated Press reported.

Presque Isle Downs ranked higher than 19 other casinos on the East Coast, including its sister property, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, which reported $183 per machine. But Mountaineer, in Chester, W.Va., also operates 3,188 slot machines.

And the figures do not account for the influence at Mountaineer of roulette, blackjack and other table games, which started operating Dec. 20.

Spectrum Gaming issues quarterly East Coast slots reports to e-mail subscribers and monthly reports to subscribers who pay more for the service, Pollock said.

Richard Knight, chief executive of Presque Isle Downs, said the report mixes "apples and oranges" in comparing casinos.


Many variables come into play, he said. That includes considering areas with larger populations than Erie; Atlantic City casinos' much-lower tax rates than those in Pennsylvania, freeing the Boardwalk casinos to spend more on marketing and giveaways; and the large-scale operations at the Indian casinos in Connecticut.

Even so, Knight said, he is satisfied with the win per machine, adding, "I think it's going to grow."

Doug Harbach, spokesman for the state gaming board, said Presque Isle Downs is performing above expectations, with work still ahead to establish its market and to prepare for a full summer season of thoroughbred horse racing. The track offered a brief September meet in 2007, but will offer racing this year from May through September.

"You're talking about a seasoned gaming company in MTR," Harbach said, referring to the casino's parent company. "And the gaming board's very confident in their abilities to produce significant revenue for the state."

Presque Isle Downs ranked ahead of Pennsylvania's only other casino, the Mount Airy Casino Resort that opened in fall 2007 in the Pocono Mountains. Ranked 34th, Mount Airy produced $157 for each of its 2,523 machines through only 40 operating days in the quarter, the report said.


Fourteen casinos are planned for Pennsylvania.

The report does not include Presque Isle Downs' closest competitor, Seneca Allegany Casino, about 80 miles to the east in Salamanca, N.Y.

Spectrum gets casino revenue information from state agencies. But the Seneca Gaming Corp, which runs three casinos in western New York, is not required to report figures such as average daily win per machine to New York state, said Seneca Gaming spokesman Phil Pantano.

"We report our financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it's not broken down into slot win per day," he said.

Pantano said the corporation, which operates casinos on sovereign Indian land, is not releasing the average daily win per machine to the public, but said the figures "fall in line with normal industry performance."

JOHN GUERRIERO can be reached at 870-1690 or by e-mail at [email protected]





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