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Gambling revenue up, but not all casino results were equal

By - Last modified: January 21, 2013 at 9:29 AM

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported last week that 2012 was another year of overall casino gaming revenue growth in the state.

The gross revenue generated from slots machines and table gaming for the state was up 4.4 percent compared with 2011 to about $3.2 billion. It resulted in about $1.4 billion in gaming tax revenue.

But gaming revenue growth did not come across the board, and December numbers released in tandem with yearly figures appeared even a bit more sluggish.

Casino gambling in Pennsylvania started after passage Act 71 of 2004, also known as the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. There are now 11 casinos in the state.

The state levies a 55 percent gaming tax on slots revenue and, at most casinos, there is now a 14 percent effective tax rate on table games play.

Last month, seven of the 10 casinos open for more than a year saw their gross slots revenue drop compared with December 2011, according to the board.

They included Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County.

And slot machine revenue dropped at four casinos for all of 2012, the board stated:

• The midstate's Hollywood Casino (down 1.97 percent)

• Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Luzerne County (down 0.27 percent)

• Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Delaware County (down 3.1 percent)

• The Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie County (down 9.67 percent).

December was actually the second-highest month to date for gross table games revenue, and for the entire year the money generated from this form of gambling rose about 11 percent.

But six casinos reported table game revenue declines for December, and two decreased for the entire year compared with 2011.

The latter two were Presque Isle (down 12.43 percent) and the Parx Casino in Bucks County (down 3.95 percent).

Two factors help account for the revenue numbers, said Doug Harbach, a board spokesman.

One is that facilities that have been open for a number of years will naturally hit a more level period of revenue growth, he said.

In this more stabilized environment, some months might be up and some might be down, Harbach said. Small fluctuations over certain periods aren't cause for concern and are to be expected.

Then, there is the situation at Presque Isle. Gaming competition now from the neighboring state of Ohio has resulted in some revenue decline at the Erie County facility, Harbach said.

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey covers York County, agribusiness, energy and environment, and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at brentb@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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