For the sixth consecutive year, state data show Pennsylvania casinos posted record revenue for slot machines.
In 2012, patrons playing slots in the state's 11 casinos lost a record $2.47 billion, which was 2.7 percent higher than the $2.40 billion lost in 2011, according to a report released Thursday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
While many players were losers, the casinos and the state's coffers hit the jackpot.
PGCB Chairman William H. Ryan Jr. said tax revenue generated from the play of slots during 2012 was more than $1.3 billion. The first slot machines began operating in Plains Township in November 2006.
While competition for gaming dollars from bordering states will continue to escalate, the revenue results from legalized casino gaming in Pennsylvania continue to be strong, Ryan said. In addition, a healthy casino industry has resulted in the employment of more than 16,000 persons, stability in the Commonwealth's horse racing industry, funds for major economic development and community-based projects and property tax relief for all Pennsylvania homeowners.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, was a member of the state House when he voted in favor of legalizing slot machines in 2004. He said property tax relief was the goal.
While he believes the addition of another casino will go a long way toward bringing in more revenue, the close to $1 billion in relief that casinos bring in annually is still a huge help for homeowners and local economies. A lot of those gaming dollars that were going out of Pennsylvania are now remaining, Yudichak said.
To see that casinos grossed more than $2.47 billion in slot machines in 2012 alone proves to Yudichak that there was plenty of money leaving the state to be wagered in New Jersey, Delaware, New York and elsewhere. They are big numbers, he said, there's no question about it.
The year-to-year increase was buoyed by big gains at two of the state's casinos – Sands Casino Bethlehem and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia – and by the opening of the state's 11th casino, the Valley Forge Casino Resort.
Locally, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township, which became the state's first slots parlor when it opened in 2006, was one of four casinos to see a decrease in slot machine gross revenue. It saw a decrease of 0.27 percent year-to-year, dipping from $232.8 million in gross revenue at slot machines in 2011 to $232.1 million last year.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs General Manager Mike Bean said 2011 was a record year for the casino when it came to slot revenues and even though 2012 was down slightly, it marks the venue's second-best year in terms of gross slot revenues.
He noted 2012 was still a tough year in the local economy and with concerns about the fiscal cliff, some people might have been spooked about the financial situation.
Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie saw slot machine gross revenues drop the most, at 9.67 percent; Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Chester saw slot machine gross revenues drop 3.1 percent; while Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville reported 1.97 percent lower gross revenues.
The big gainer was the SugarHouse Casino along the Delaware River in Philadelphia. It saw an 11.24 percent increase, going from $170.9 million in 2011 to $190.1 million in 2012.
Parx Casino, in Bensalem, led all casinos in the state once again with $384.5 million in slot revenues. The Sands was next with $291.5 million, and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh ranked third with $282 million.
Though Mount Airy Casino near Mount Pocono brought in $149 million, making it 10th of the 11 casinos in terms of slot revenues, it was enough to boost its year-to-year gross revenues by 2.79 percent.