Pennsylvania Casinos Win Record $3.2B, State Government Wants More in 2019

Posted on: January 17, 2019, 08:29h. 

Last updated on: January 17, 2019, 08:29h.

The 12 Pennsylvania casinos in operation last year collectively won more than $3.248 billion, the state’s all-time best mark since commercial gambling was legalized in 2006.

Pennsylvania casinos Tom Wolf
Pennsylvania casinos delivered Governor Tom Wolf and state government coffers over a $1.3 billion in taxes last year. Wolf was signed in for his second term this week. (Image: Matt Rourke/AP)

Gross gambling revenue (GGR) from slot machines totaled $2.369 billion, while table games accounted for just shy of $878.8 million. The $3.2 billion haul was less than a one percent gain on 2017’s total win of $3.226 billion, but still equates to $21 million more for the Keystone State casinos. 

Parx near Philadelphia was the dog top in the state, with GGR coming in at more than $602 million. The casino in Bensalem relied heavily on its slot machines, which accounted for $411.4 million of its win. 

Sands Bethlehem, which is in the approval process of being sold to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama for $1.3 billion, was second at $520.9 million. The casino won the most on table games ($221.9 million). 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reports that the state’s share of the record win was $1,377,254,368.

Move Over Atlantic City

Pennsylvania commercial casinos win more money than any other state not named Nevada. The Silver State hasn’t released its full 2018 numbers yet, but won $11.57 billion in 2017. 

As for 2018, New Jersey is third behind Pennsylvania, with total GGR coming in at $2.85 billion. 

While Atlantic City long enjoyed being the East Coast gambling capital, its days of being second fiddle to Nevada have long been gone. Pennsylvania passed New Jersey in commercial GGR in 2012, and hasn’t looked back since. 

Pennsylvania’s government wants more gaming dollars flowing to Harrisburg. In 2019, five so-called satellite casinos that will be permitted to house as many as 750 slot machines and 30 tables will come to small communities across the Commonwealth.  

A full-fledged casino resort also remains under development in Philadelphia’s sports complex district. 

Pennsylvania isn’t done there. Video gaming terminals will come to diesel truck stops that meet certain criteria, and the state’s expanded gaming act passed in 2017 allows for the creation of airport gaming lounges.

Sports betting regulations have also been set, and internet gambling approved. 

Crowded Competition

2019 will be a pivotal year for the Pennsylvania casinos and the statewide gaming industry. Several of the licensed operators vigorously fought against the 2017 gaming measures, including Penn National Gaming, the oldest operator that calls the Keystone State home. 

A $2.2 billion budget gap led to the Republican-controlled state legislature into backing gambling expansion instead of higher taxes. Governor Tom Wolf said at the time that he doesn’t want to sign legislation that simply poaches from “one bucket called gambling to another.”

As the satellite casinos open their doors in the year ahead and the other approved gaming goes live, Wolf and the gaming industry will discover whether there’s an even greater appetite for gambling than the $3.2 billion tab residents and visitors paid last year.