Pennsylvania Gaming Congress coming to Philadelphia for first time

Parx Casino led the state last month with $8.2 million from table games.
Parx Casino led the state last month with $8.2 million from table games.
Posted: March 18, 2011

In just four years since its first casino opened, Pennsylvania has emerged as a juggernaut on the national gaming landscape, generating nearly $2.5 billion in gaming revenue last year.

On Thursday, figures released by the Gaming Control Board ranked the three Philadelphia-area casinos first, second, and fifth among the state's 10 gambling halls in table-games revenue last month.

So it makes some sense that the annual Pennsylvania Gaming Congress - a two-day event to discuss the state's burgeoning industry - will take place in Philadelphia next week for the first time.

The seventh annual gathering will start Monday at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel at 1200 Market St.

"Given the rapid rise of Philadelphia as a major U.S. gaming market, we believe it made sense to have this major industry event in a city that is home to three casinos generating more than a billion dollars in gross gaming revenue," said analyst Joseph Weinert of Spectrum Gaming Group L.L.C. of Linwood, N.J., organizer and producer of the congress. "Further, Greater Philadelphia is a major feeder for many of the casinos within 100 miles of the city."

According to state figures, total revenue from slot machines and table games was $241.6 million last month, up 43.5 percent from a year earlier. Excluding SugarHouse Casino, which opened Sept. 23, the increase was 32.5 percent from February 2010. Slots revenue rose 17.6 percent, and table games, which began in July, generated $43.6 million last month.

February's top generators of table-games revenue were Parx Casino in Bensalem, with 150 table games, at $8.2 million; Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack, with 122 tables, at $6.9 million; the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, with 100 tables, at $6.6 million; and the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, with 96 tables, at $5.5 million. SugarHouse rounded out the top five at $5.2 million despite having only 43 tables.

The impact of table games, such as poker and blackjack, in Pennsylvania will be examined at the gaming summit. Day one will feature panels on the changes to the state's horse-racing industry with the addition of casinos at tracks. The focus Tuesday will be gaming growth statewide and regulatory and legislative changes.

The fate of the second casino license for Philadelphia and the impact of last week's state Supreme Court decision to allow a casino at the Valley Forge Convention Center will also be discussed, Weinert said.

Andrew Zarnett of Deutsche Bank A.G., who will be among four gaming analysts on the Tuesday panel "The Candid View From Wall Street," said Pennsylvania gambling had the potential to become a $3 billion industry by the end of 2012.

"Gov. Rendell deserves a lot of credit for executing a good deal for the state," Zarnett said, "because at the tax levels that these casinos pay - approximately 55 percent of revenues - the casinos in Pennsylvania are generating almost $1.5 billion for the state.

"That is extremely significant because the casinos of Atlantic City are generating less than $300 million for the State of New Jersey at a much lower tax rate."

Atlantic City's 11 casinos generated $3.6 billion last year in gaming revenue, an erosion of $1.6 billion from the resort's peak year in 2006.

Weinert said the Pennsylvania Gaming Congress was expected to draw about 250 attendees, including casino operators, slot manufacturers, vendors, architects, lawyers, and others.

A full agenda is at www.pagamingcongress.com/events/


Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley

at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

 

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