BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Pennsylvania Overtakes New Jersey for Number Two Spot in Gaming

By Lauren Wanko

Pennsylvania casino executives have reason to celebrate, taking New Jersey’s long-standing title as the nation’s second largest gaming market.

Their first casino opened in 2006. Now there are 11 throughout the state.

Valley Forge Casino Resort, the newest property, just opened on Saturday. There’s speculation that the resort-style experience offered at Valley Forge could mean less business for Revel, Atlantic City’s newest resort.

“I think there is a market niche for all of the casinos in different states. And in Pennsylvania, one of the keys, thus far, has certainly been the fact that these casinos are not in one location but scattered throughout the commonwealth. And that means if someone wants to jump in a car and be at home later that evening, they can do so in Pennsylvania,” says Doug Harbach of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Last month, Pennsylvania’s casinos marked a record high, generating over $233 million in gross revenue for slot machines. That’s up over 8 percent from last March. There was a revenue increase in every casino in the state.

Parx Casino in Bensalem, not far from the New Jersey border, is the number one casino revenue generator for the state.

“Why would someone get in their car and drive 2 hours when they can have the same great experience in their backyard,” says Carrie Nork Minelli of Parx Casino.

Atlantic City’s $3.3 billion casino industry lags behind Pennsylvania’s $3.66 billion market.

For the first two months of the year, Pennsylvania casinos generated over $515 million in gross revenue for slots and table games combined, versus over $479 million generated during the same period in New Jersey.

Despite taking the number two spot, Pennsylvania casinos, like Parx, are committed to finding ways to increase business especially with summer quickly approaching. Right now, Parx Casino is under their next phase of expansion, which includes additional gaming, new restaurants and bars, an event space, and their long-term goal — a hotel. Executives say additions like those will continue to attract visitors to casinos throughout Pennsylvania.