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Pennsylvania casinos' slots revenue still dropping

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 5:33 p.m.

Rivers Casino avoided declining slots revenue in April, but casinos statewide continued a losing streak, according to figures released this week by the state Gaming Control Board.

The North Shore casino posted slots revenue growth of 0.2 percent for April, topping $24.4 million. Slots revenue at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem increased 0.64 percent from a year ago. Valley Forge Casino Resort outside King of Prussia had its slots revenue spike nearly 34 percent to $5.4 million, up from $4 million played in April 2012 — its first full month in business.

Overall, the state's 11 casinos collected $205.2 million in slots revenue in April, down 4 percent or about $9 million from a year earlier. It was the fifth consecutive month in which gross slots revenue decreased.

The state's six racetrack casinos endured an even sharper decline than the five stand-alone casinos: Slots revenue decreased 7.4 percent.

Presque Isle Downs Casino in Erie continued the slide triggered with last year's opening of a Cleveland casino, with April slots revenue down 16.3 percent — the most in the state — to $11.8 million. Slots revenue at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington County experienced the second-largest decline of nearly 10 percent last month, to $20.1 million, state gambling figures showed.

“Comparing one month of figures does not provide an overall accurate assessment,” said Sean Sullivan, general manager and vice president of The Meadows.

Sullivan said he expects customers are pleased the figures indicate they won $2 million more last month compared with the same time last year.

“Slots revenues at Pennsylvania's racetrack casinos have now fallen for nine of the last 10 months,” said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition. “It is becoming increasingly clear that this is not an anomaly, but a trend that will continue due to the increasing competition from casino gaming in other states.”

The drop in slots revenue meant $1.77 million less in April compared with a year ago for the state's Race Horse Development Fund, which supports horse racing and breeding.

The fund has received $14.3 million less this year than it did last year, Peterson said.

Pennsylvania opened its first casino in 2006 and now is the country's second-largest gambling market behind Las Vegas.

Table-game revenue has set records, including $67.5 million in gross revenue in March — a 9 percent increase over the previous record. April table-game figures are not yet available.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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