Pennsylvania Gambling Revenue increases in 2015

Like many states across the U.S., Pennsylvania was experiencing a downturn in gambling revenue due to increased competition from neighboring states. However, the Keystone State was able to reverse this slide after making $3.2 billion in 2015.

This amount not only ends a two-year skid, but the $3.2 billion also surpasses the state’s previous record of $3.1 billion, which was set in 2012.

Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, is happy to avoid the fate of Atlantic City, which has seen their gaming revenue decline for eight straight years.

“There was a lot of concern that 2012 was the high water mark — that we were never going to get back there again,” said McCargey. “But when you look at it, we never really fell that far. It was nothing like what happened to Atlantic City, so it was a lot easier to come back from.”

McCall reports that the two reasons behind Pennsylvania’s growth are that they don’t rely on out-of-state gamblers and their table games have continued doing well.

“After all, this is a convenience gambling state,” said Alan Silver, a gaming industry expert and Ohio University professor. “It’s not like Las Vegas or Atlantic City used to be. [Pennsylvania casinos] get most of their business from their own neighborhood.”

Pennsylvania first started their casino market in 2006, then quickly rose to become America’s second-biggest gambling destination – overtaking Atlantic City for this honor in 2012. The Keystone State’s rise has been predicated on recruiting in-state customers who previously traveled to Atlantic City.

This trend has continued to serve Pennsylvania well because many neighboring states have increased their gambling offerings. Ohio now has 11 casinos, Maryland has 5, New York’s race tracks added slot machines and West Virginia added table games in 2008.

Chris Jones, North America research analyst for Las Vegas-based Union Gaming Group, says that another factor helping Pennsylvania’s gaming market is an improving economy. Much like Detroit casinos, Pennsylvanians are gambling more money because they’re spending less at gas pumps and earning more overall.

Sands Bethlehem has been the biggest beneficiary of this increased spending, with their table game revenue going from $106 million in 2011 to a record high of $200 million last year. This fast increase is a big reason why Pennsylvania casinos as a whole saw a $100 million increase.

“Sands has been unstoppable and that’s really helped the state offset the effects of competition from other states,” said Jones. “Table games is a player-development business. It takes a casino years to build its base. What you are seeing is Pennsylvania’s table games market continuing to mature, while some of this other competition comes online.”

While Pennsylvania is experiencing good times right now, Jones also warns that they could be in for tougher competition in the future. New Jersey will be voting on putting two casinos in the northern part of their state while New York will be adding three upstate casinos in 2017 and 2018.