Gamblers at Pennsylvania casinos continued to hit the tables in a big way last year, but all those hands of blackjack and spins of the roulette wheel still weren’t enough to prevent the industry from suffering its first overall revenue decline since casino play began in 2006.
Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos raked in about $730 million from more than 1,000 table games last year, a 6 percent increase over 2012, according to year-end revenue numbers released Thursday. But thanks to a decline in slot-machine play, gross casino revenue in 2013 dipped about 1.4 percent to $3.1 billion, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said.
State gambling regulators have cited increased competition from border states as one reason why the casinos’ haul from slot machines declined 3.5 percent last year to less than $2.4 billion. The year-end slots numbers were released in early January.
The results were brighter at the tables, with the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem leading the way at nearly $177 million, up 21 percent over 2012, according to the year-end results posted Thursday.
Still, some casinos fared better than others. Five of the 12 casinos took in less money from tables last year than they did the year before. Of those, Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie posted the biggest decline, off 26 percent.
“The increase in competition and expanded gaming in neighboring states has directly impacted revenues,” said Mike Tamburelli, Presque Isle’s vice president and general manager.
He said the casino has made numerous improvements, from adding $5 blackjack tables to offering a new buffet to improving air quality, in an effort to “keep Presque Isle Downs & Casino competitive in an ever-changing competitive marketplace.”
Despite last year’s hiccup, Pennsylvania remains the nation’s second largest gambling market after Las Vegas in terms of gross revenue and No. 1 in taxes collected. Pennsylvania collected about $1.4 billion in taxes last year. It uses that money to support the state budget, public schools, civic development projects, volunteer firefighting squads, local governments and the horse racing industry.
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