Pennsylvania slots hit $1 billion mark

October 30, 2007 3:32 AM
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Revenue from Pennsylvania’s fledgling slot-machine gambling industry has surpassed the $1 billion mark, three years after the state legalized the devices as a way to cut taxes and inject new life into its equine industry.

Through last Wednesday, the state had collected $1,001,248,572, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Of the $1 billion, more than half, or $550 million, came from the licensing fees that each of the 11 licensees have paid. The rest came from the state’s 55 percent cut of the revenues from the 10,130 slot machines at the five casinos now operating.

"I think it’s the most significant benchmark we’ve reached so far in terms of the major goals" of the state’s July 2004 slot-machine law, board chairman Mary DiGiacomo Colins said.

All five slots parlors now open are at horse-racing tracks after the first one, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, opened last November. A sixth, the state’s first freestanding slots parlor, is tentatively scheduled to open Monday in the Pocono Mountains.

The others, including two in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh, are expected to open by the end of 2009.

Gulf Coast
on record pace

September’s casino earnings have put Mississippi $68 million ahead of the record-setting 2004 year, when the state earned nearly $2.8 billion.

Last month produced record gross gaming revenue for the Mississippi Gulf Coast market. Gross gaming revenue amounted to $111.7 million in September, compared with $109.6 million a year earlier, according to figures released by the State Tax Commission.

"That’s the strongest September on record for the Gulf Coast market," said Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. "That market is moving in a positive direction."

Alan Silver, director of Tulane University’s casino resort management program in Biloxi, said he believes the Gulf Coast numbers are up because new restaurants and top-notch entertainment are attracting consumers to the 11 casinos there.

"People are seeing this area as a destination," he said.

Gregory said he expects the state’s total gross gaming revenue to be "right at" $3 billion by the end of the year. To reach that figure, the state’s casinos will have to bring in about $259 million a month.

Louisiana rising

Players lost $210.7 million at Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos in September, a slight increase from a year ago when there were two fewer gambling halls, state police reported.

In September 2006, the Amelia Belle Casino near Morgan City and the slot machine casino at the New Orleans Fair Grounds had not yet opened. Casino winnings that month totaled $209.1 million.

In the latest tally, the 13 riverboats won $145.6 million, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino won $35.2 million and the slot casinos at the state’s four race tracks took in $29.9 million.

In the Shreveport-Bossier City market, five dockside riverboats and the casino at Louisiana Downs won $68.2 million, down from $70.2 million in September 2006. That market has been facing increasing competition for Texas gamblers from Indian reservation casinos in Oklahoma that are closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In the New Orleans market, two riverboats and Harrah’s New Orleans won $58.9 million, almost unchanged from $58.3 million in September 2006. However, last month marked the opening of the slot casino at the Fair Grounds, which pulled in $360,606 in 12 days of operation.

In the Lake Charles market, which attracts players from southeastern Texas, three riverboats won $38.8 million and the Delta Downs casino won another $13.3 million for a total of $52.1 million. That market won $51.8 million in September 2006.

Slots slips in Connecticut

In September, slot machine revenue dropped at both Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun.

Foxwoods took in $67.2 million dollars but its net slot win decreased by 2.6 percent over last September.

The Mohegan Sun slot revenue totaled $77.3 million, and was down 1.2 percent compared with last September.

Mohegan Sun President Mitch Etess said the drop was more bearable by the knowledge that slot wins in Atlantic City also plunged.

"I think the market is still seeking its own level in terms of the increase it has seen in capacity," he said.