Pennsylvania Casinos Are Handing Out Less Free Slot Play

Posted on: August 28, 2017, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: August 28, 2017, 12:19h.

Pennsylvania casinos were a tad more conservative during the most recent fiscal year when it came to divvying out free slot credit to patrons, and that might hint that gambling demographics are changing.

Pennsylvania casinos free slot play
Sands Bethlehem wasn’t quite as liberal with free slot play for its 3,000 machines last year, as Pennsylvania casinos cut their generosity by almost $59 million from levels seen four years ago. (Image: Delhi Police)

Pennsylvania’s 12 land-based floors aren’t alone in giving out less free spins, as casinos in West Virginia did the same.

The revelations were disclosed in recent revenue reports issued from the state’s respective gaming agencies. Behind only Nevada, Pennsylvania generates more casino revenue than any other state.  

In Pennsylvania, casinos gave out $622.4 million in promotional play during the 2016/17 fiscal year, a nearly nine percent reduction from the state’s high in 2012/13 when it gave out $681.2 million. In the Mountain State, West Virginia’s five casinos awarded players $74.3 million, a 21 percent drop from 2011/12 when the gambling floors dished out $93.9 million.

End of an Era?

The baby boomers are now approaching 70 years of age or already there, with many fully retired and living on a fixed income. No generation has perhaps taken a liking to slot machines more than baby boomers, but younger generations don’t seem quite as keen on the games of chance.

West Virginia and Pennsylvania casinos giving out less free slot play might hint that the baby boomer generation is getting older, and visiting less. Gaming consultant Vince Manfredi opined to the Tribune-Review, a Pennsylvania newspaper covering the slot story, that the strengthening economy could also be pushing free slot play down.

Manfredi believes casinos needed to do more a few years back to lure patrons when the recession was most hardly felt. But the consultant admits the more probable long-term reason is due to fewer boomers.

Generation X, and especially the millennial, have less interest in slot machines, instead preferring games with some element of skill.

“The slot experience has to be reimagined to appeal to a younger audience,” Manfredi opined. “The younger person is not as inclined to play in a traditional slot experience because it doesn’t compare well with other kinds of electronic gaming experience, where there is competition, there is socialization, there is more entertainment value through the animation.”

Las Vegas Targets Millennials

When it comes to gambling innovation, Nevada and Las Vegas has always been the industry’s epicenter. In recent months, casinos in the Silver State have sought ways to make sure they’re adjusting to demand, and assuring that their floors remain active for decades to come.

From eSports and video game competitions, to skill-based gaming terminals that incorporate elements of traditional slot machines with aptitude, casinos are currently in a beta period trying to determine what appeals and what doesn’t.

MGM is perhaps the most active operator trying to develop a plan for the coveted millennial. Nevada’s largest employer recently opened the Level Up gaming and entertainment lounge inside the MGM Grand, an area dedicated to the 20 and 30-something crowd. 

In addition to Level Up, MGM is also behind the “Fear of the Walking Dead Survival Experience,” a zombie-themed virtual reality attraction. Played in a 2,000-square-foot room, the game immerses players in a digital universe with live zombies played by actors.