PLAINS TWP. — The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Casino purchased more wine and spirits in the 2012-13 fiscal year than the next six largest liquor buyers in Luzerne County combined. And three of those buyers are tenants operating inside of the casino.
As the casino has expanded over the past few years — first with added slot machines, then table games, then concerts and festivals — the amount of wine and liquor it’s purchased also has grown. In 2010, the casino purchased $605,406 worth of wine and liquor from the state’s liquor control board retail shops. A year later that total jumped 76 percent to $1.06 million. By 2012 the total stood at $1.11 million.
By comparison, in fiscal year 2013, the next largest retail establishment making purchases was Ruth’s Chris, a steakhouse operating inside the casino, which bought $306,098 in liquor from July 2012 through June 2013.
The Woodlands Inn and Resort, just down state Route 315 from the casino, bought $253,715 in alcohol, excluding beer, and ranked third in the county. Two of the next four entities on the list are restaurants inside the casino: Rustic Kitchen ranked fourth in the county with $142,225 in purchases and Bar Louie is number seventh on the list with $112,304 spent on liquor and wine in in fiscal year 2013.
The casino’s purchases are used for the liquor and wine sold or given out for free on its gaming floor, at its owned and operated bars such as Breakers and for events held in its ballroom.
Six years ago, no casinos ranked in the top 10 in the state when it came to liquor and wine purchases. But then table games were legalized in 2010 and casinos started expanding offerings and adding amenities.
Over the last 12 months, the top two — and five of the top 10 — liquor buyers in the state were casinos. Sands Bethlehem leads the way with $1.99 million in purchases; Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester was second with $1.16 million; Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh was fourth with $1.12 million and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs ranked fifth at $1.11 million. Nemacolin Woodlands in Fayette County, which has a resort casino license, ranked ninth on the list with $773,656. The rest of the top 10 is filled with restaurants and hotels in Philadelphia.
“That’s not surprising, it’s simply because of the volume of people that come through a casino’s door daily,” said Mike Bean, the president and general manager at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Most casinos are the largest attractions in the counties they’re in, and with the volume of patrons each day and the amount of free or discounted drink deals offered, the results are not unexpected. While the casino has boosted its beer volumes this summer with a free beer giveaway for slot and table game players, the liquor sales have also seen a boost as promotions have brought in more people.
Bean said on an average weekend day there are 16,000 people visiting the casino.
“You can’t come in here and leave without at least two or three drinks,” said Paul Gimble, of Tunkhannock, who said he visits Mohegan Sun at least once a week to play the slot machines with his girlfriend. When told how much liquor or wine the casino purchased in the last year — about 55,000 bottles — even Gimble was surprised.
“Wow, that’s a lot of booze. I hope they recycle,” Gimble laughed.
The casino does, according to Bean.
It also pays the same taxes on those bottles that every citizen in the state does, meaning the liquor control board’s coffers and the state’ general fund have made out quite nicely thanks to the approval and expansion of casinos in the state. The casino pays the 18 percent liquor tax, totalling $200,809 during the last fiscal year plus the 6 percent sales tax of $66,936, totalling $267,745 in taxes on wine and spirits over the past fiscal year.