PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Forget the economy — Pennsylvanians are playing the slots at record numbers, making 2012 the best year ever with nearly $2.5 billion in slots revenue.
And that’s not all.
“We expect that we’re going to see, when final numbers are out, a nice increase in the amount of revenue from table games,” Doug Harbach, spokesman for the PA Gaming Control Board, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
Add in table games, that could bring total gaming revenue close to $4.0 billion.
“I think it’s a great year for Pennsylvania,” said Sean Sullivan, vice president and general manager of the Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
Sullivan has spent more than 30 years in the gaming industry, much of it in Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas is still struggling,” noted Sullivan. “There is no doubt that the economy — the housing bubble that burst in Nevada — is quite severe, as well as some areas like Florida and California, as we all know. This area — southwestern Pennsylvania and other parts of Pennsylvania — are holding its own.”
That has helped Pennsylvania become the nation’s second most lucrative state for gambling, second only to Nevada.
“With the growth of revenue at the casinos in PA, about 18 months ago we passed New Jersey into second place,” said Harbach.
Second place to Nevada?
“It’s quite impressive,” said Sullivan. “When you understand the commitment, the assets, the infrastructure, the premise of Nevada and its gaming opportunities offerings, it’s shocking that we’ve snuck up this close to them, this quickly.”
For Pennsylvania taxpayers, a good year in gaming means more money to reduce property taxes. Right now, that averages around $190 a year for each homeowner.
That number could go up if gaming continues to be successful in Pennsylvania.
“As we move ahead to 2013 and look at additional opening of a casino and possibly the licensing of another, we believe we will continue to see growth in gaming revenue,” added Harbach.
Although Ohio introduced casinos last year, both the Meadows and the Rivers don’t seem to have suffered.
Later this year, this region will get a third casino at the Nemacolin resort in Fayette County — and a racetrack casino is possible in Lawrence County in the years ahead.
Sullivan at the Meadows says local competition is good, as casinos improve customer service and the products they offer to attract more players.
As for Nevada, Pennsylvania may be in second place, but it would take a miracle to overtake them.
Nevada generates two and a half times the gaming revenue Pennsylvania does.
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