NY Casino Revenue Takes Hit In February, But March Promises Better Returns

Posted By Derek Helling on March 26, 2021

February casino revenue reports from the four commercial casinos in New York aren’t the stuff dreams are made of. Such was the case for February 2021.

However, there are reasons for the operators of those facilities to not only dream of but actually expect superior numbers soon.

February doesn’t have the best reputation among the months of the year in the casino business. Additionally, factors beyond the control of the gambling companies seem to be on favorable courses right now.

Detailed look at February 2021 casino revenue reports

Altogether, commercial casinos in New York reported over $34.19 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR), according to figures released by the New York State Gaming Commission. Rivers Casino in Schenectady narrowly beat out Resorts World Catskills for the top spot in the month, accounting for about $10.29 million of that total.

The most valuable vertical for all four facilities continues to be slot play. At Rivers last month, for example, slots brought in over three-quarters of the property’s GGR. As for NY sports betting, however, GGR from all four facilities clocked in at just $1.13 million. For a Super Bowl month, that’s unimpressive and shows just how much only offering retail betting hurts the industry in the Empire State.

The BetRivers Sportsbook represented about 40% of the sportsbook take, sitting at $463,663. The other sportsbook figures for February 2021 were:

How do these figures compare to previous samples? It isn’t favorable, but the context is important.

Annual and monthly comparisons along with things to remember

In February 2020, the total GGR for all four casinos came to about $54.55 million. That statistic is down about 37.4% year over year.

Year-to-date numbers look just as daunting, with 2021’s running total down 32% as compared to the first two months of 2020.

The numbers are down as compared to January of this year, too. January’s combined GGR was 8.1% higher than February’stotals.

So, why aren’t New York casino operators likely worried? There are four primary reasons.

New York casinos keeping eyes on immediate future

March could deliver a strong showing in sports betting revenue due to the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament ongoing, and the March Madness betting that goes with it. A weekly update from Rivers showed $242,576 in sportsbook revenue for the week ending March 14, for example.

Keeping on that sports betting theme, that category has seen a tremendous year-over-year improvement. In fact, three of the four brick-and-mortar sportsbooks actually showed a loss in February 2020. They might have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to thank for a better month in 2021.

The third reason is that as COVID-19 statistics improve, more New Yorkers should feel comfortable returning to gaming floors. That also means a further loosening of government restrictions on casinos, like the termination of the curfew set to occur next month.

Finally, February is not a strong month for casino gaming, historically. As the weather improves, more casino patrons emerge from their winter domiciles. That’s especially true in parts of northern New York, where winters can be quite fierce.

Overall, last month’s dip in revenue was expected, but not as bad as it could have been. However, there’s no question that these numbers could be better if the state allowed online sportsbooks to operate under these casinos’ licenses.

Photo by AP / Seth Wenig
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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