January 18, 2013

Pennsylvania is now No.2 gambling destination surpassing Atlantic City

Pennsylvania has surpassed Atlantic City as the nation’s No. 2 gaming revenue market. The state’s Gaming Control Board said this week that Pennsylvania casinos took in $3.16 billion from slot machines and table games in 2012, surpassing the $3.05 billion reported for the same year by Atlantic City, which suffered its sixth straight annual revenue decrease.

The state still has a ways to go to catch Las Vegas, the nation’s largest gaming market, which produced $6 billion in gaming revenues in 2011. The 2012 year-end totals for Las Vegas will be released in February. For the first 11 months of the year, Strip gaming revenues were up 1.2% over 2011. In Pennsylvania, there are 11 casinos operating. A 12th casino, in the western part of the state, is expected to open this year.

Six groups, including Wynn Resorts are seeking the state’s 13th license in Philadelphia. The Pennsyvlania data underscore the challenges facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as he looks to reinvigorate the tourism and gambling industries after years of decline and the recent superstorm Sandy.

The state has lost business as New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland expanded their gambling operations. “Pennsylvania is a great growth story,” said Jan Jones, executive vice president for communications and government relations at Caesars Entertainment. which has one casino there and four in New Jersey. “Governor Christie has really been trying to reposition Atlantic City as a resort destination.” Casino revenue in New Jersey has fallen for six straight years since peaking at $5.2 billion in 2006, according to state data.

Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation in casino spending in 2011, behind Nevada and New Jersey, according to the American Gaming Association trade group. New Jersey has 12 casinos after the opening of Revel last year. Pennsylvania has 11. The closely held Parx Casino & Racing, formerly Philadelphia Park Racetrack & Casino, was the state’s largest in revenue with almost $500 million in total, separate reports showed.

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