Pennsylvania Casinos Raked in a Record $3.17 Billion in 2015

While some have speculated that the Pennsylvania gambling market is already saturated, state casinos reported a 3.41% increase in revenue for 2015.

The Commonwealth’s gambling industry raked in a total of $3.17 billion, much of which was due to the growing popularity of table games. Indeed, such games generated $808 million in revenue last year, an increase of 7.8% from 2014.

Many thought that the casino market in the state had peaked in 2012, with some saying that the industry would soon suffer a prolonged decline.

“There was a lot of concern that 2012 was the high water mark — that we were never going to get back there again,” said Gaming Control Board Spokesman Richard McGarvey. “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.”

Tapping the Local Market

One of the keys to Pennsylvania’s success is the fact that its casinos don’t rely on out-of-town gamblers. Furthermore, unlike Atlantic City, developers are free to build in various locations throughout the state, reducing the chance of cannibalization from competitors.

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

Pennsylvania Already a Gambling Powerhouse

While its first casino opened just eight years ago, Pennsylvania now boasts the second biggest US gambling market, with Las Vegas taking the first spot and New Jersey bumped down to third. In contrast, New Jersey took in $2.56 billion last year, 6.5% less than its 2014 revenues.

The Commonwealth’s record-breaking take comes even as neighboring states are increasingly offering more alternatives. In 2008, West Virginia added table games to its slot machine casinos, with New York giving the green light to horseracing tracks and slot machines in 2011. Ohio boasts 11 casinos, with Maryland offering five. In New York, regulators recently signed off on three new casinos in Catskills, Finger Lakes and Schenectady. The state is already home to five tribal casinos and nine racetrack casinos.

The spike in revenue is welcome news for PA state lawmakers, who are desperately searching for new revenue streams in order to balance the state budget. Assembly member John Payne (R-Dauphin) has proposed that the Commonwealth offer online gambling as a way to generate revenue and shore up the state’s pension fund. Payne believes that there is a good chance the assembly will pass his iGaming legislation before the end of this year.