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US – Pennsylvania approves ‘Stadium Gambling’

By - 7 September 2015

Pennsylvania’s gaming regulators have approved Electronic Gaming Terminals (ETGs) to operate in ‘stadium gambling’ form at Sands Casino Bethlehem. The casino, owned by Sheldon Adelson, will open an 150-seat stadium gambling area in February of next year. Las Vegas Sands currently offers ‘stadium gambling’ as its Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas, but its in Macau that the operator has seen the true value of ETGs.

Electronic table gaming in Asia counts for 9,000+ ETG seats in Macau, Singapore, Manila and Cambodia. Macau has 5,670 of those seats. Over the next three to four years, estimates predict an additional 4,150 ETG seats, 2,850 of them in Macau, almost all of them ‘stadium’ seats. Looking at profitability, stadium style EGTs have an Ebitda ratio of around 45 per cent, compared to 40 per cent for traditional live tables.

In the past, ETGs have failed to achieve the same worldwide levels of market penetration in the US and Canada, since legislative change at state level is required, while at the same time trade unions on the casino floor have thwarted attempts to bring significant automation to the table games sector. However, the decision by state gaming regulators in Pennsylvania is part of a broader effort to increase the state’s gambling industry as competition in the region for tax revenue skyrockets.

Pennsylvania’s casino gambling market is worth around $3bn annually, but it hasn’t grown for the past couple of years, and many are concerned about new casinos in New York and Maryland. Casinos need to attract new millennial players to their floors and ‘stadium gambling’ appears to finally be on the agenda at both the operator and state legislator level. Apply the 150 unit stadium model to the entire US casino sector and there’s scope for 76,000+ terminals.

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