The casinos generated $195.9 million in gross revenue from slots in February, down from $215.7 million during the same period the year before, according to Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board figures released this week. That marked the third straight month with monthly slots revenue being down from the year before, and the first time every facility showed a decline in a given month since the first casino opened in 2006, gaming board spokesman Richard McGarvey said.
Overall, it was just the seventh ever monthly decline in slots revenue. But three of those declines have come in the past three months, with gross slots revenue down 2 percent in December, 1 percent in January and 9 percent last month.
The state's newest casino, Valley Forge Casino Resort, opened in March and the latest figures include $5 million in slots revenue from play there. Without that, the 10 casinos open during both February 2012 and February 2013 showed an even greater decline of 11.5 percent.
"The landscape has really changed," McGarvey said Tuesday. "There's clearly much more competition out there."
Since its first casino opened, Pennsylvania has seen rapid growth in its casino industry and it's now the nation's second-largest gambling market behind Las Vegas. But while last year was a leap year, with an extra day in February, the latest monthly decreases may be another sign slots growth is leveling off.
The state is now facing increased competition from new or added gambling in Maryland, New York, Ohio and Delaware. Just as Pennsylvania took business from Atlantic City when its gaming came on line, it is now feeling the effects of gamblers having new options elsewhere in the region.
The starkest evidence of that can be found at Presque Isle Downs Casino in Erie, which is facing competition from a new casino across the state line in Cleveland. Presque Isle's gross slots revenue was down 28 percent, dropping from $13.9 million in February 2012 to $10 million last month.
The casinos in the crowded Philadelphia market - which now has four facilities - were down significantly as well. Parx Casino and Harrah's Philadelphia, both in the suburbs, were down 11.5 percent and 12 percent, respectively, over the same period the year before. Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia was down 9.7 percent.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in western Pennsylvania and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in northeastern Pennsylvania were both down nearly 14 percent.
Pennsylvania legalized gambling in 2004 and opened its first casino two years later; table games were legalized in 2010. The state uses casino revenue to support the state budget, public schools, civic development projects, volunteer firefighting squads, local governments and the horse racing industry.