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October 23, 2014

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Pennsylvania cements spot as nation’s No. 2 gambling market

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Matt Rourke / AP

Beverage server Christa Evanko delivers drinks at the opening of the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006.

PHILADELPHIA — Gross revenue from Pennsylvania's 11 casinos rose 4.4 percent last year to more than $3.1 billion, further cementing the state's status as the second-largest U.S. gambling market as the Atlantic City market saw another decline.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported the state's 11 casinos brought in nearly $3.16 billion in gross revenue from slot machines and table games last year, up from just over $3 billion in 2011. The figures were boosted by growth in table games, which generated $687.4 million in gross revenue last year, up about 11 percent from the year before. Earlier this month, the state reported revenues from slot machines in 2012 were $2.47 billion, up about 2.7 percent from 2011.

The total yearly revenue from slots and table games surpassed the totals from Atlantic City, which last week reported revenues of just over $3 billion. Last year, Pennsylvania officially took over as the second-largest gambling market behind Las Vegas, a title that had long been held by Atlantic City. The Atlantic City market has been declining steadily since its gambling halls took in an all-time high of $5.2 billion in 2006. In addition to Pennsylvania, there is also increased competition from facilities in Ohio, New York and other neighboring states in the East.

Pennsylvania legalized gambling in 2004 and opened its first casino two years later. The state did not legalize table games until 2010 and the revenues from the newer table games have been growing at a faster pace than slots. Revenue has been tempered in some areas by competition, especially in the crowded Philadelphia market — which has four casinos — and in Erie, where Presque Isle Downs Casino is facing competition from a new casino across the state line in Cleveland.

In 2012, table games revenues were boosted in large part from play at the state's newest facility, Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened in suburban Philadelphia in March. It brought in $21.4 million in gross table games revenue last year. It also brought in $36.5 million in gross slots revenue. The Philadelphia area also has Sugarhouse Casino in the city, Parx Casino in the northern suburbs and Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Chester, just outside the city.

Pennsylvania uses casino revenue to support the state budget, public schools, civic development projects, volunteer firefighting squads, local governments and the horse racing industry. In 2012, gambling generated combined tax revenues of $1.44 billion.

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  1. Unfair to compare a state with a huge population where the casinos are strategically located to attract customers from those population bases and across state lines, to a remote, lightly populated part of NJ where people have to drive at least 30 minutes to get there. But you so called journalists never point out the obvious.