PHILADELPHIA - Gross revenue from slot machines rose 5.5 percent for the fiscal year that just ended, according to state figures, with tax revenue generated by casinos up 4.8 percent to $1.3 billion.
The state's 11 casinos brought in gross slots revenue of nearly $2.5 billion for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Figures released this week include revenue from the state's newest casino, Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened March 31 and has generated $11.8 million in gross slots revenue so far. Slots revenue from the 10 existing casinos, meanwhile, was up 4.5 percent, with eight reporting increases compared to the previous fiscal year.
Two casinos, both facing increased competition in their regions, saw declines for the 12-month period. Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, in the struggling suburban city of Chester, reported $263.6 million in gross slots revenue, down from $280.4 million, or 6.5 percent, from the previous fiscal year. In Erie, Presque Isle Downs Casino reported a total of $164.9 million, down 2.9 percent from $169.8 million the year before.
Harrah's is struggling to find ways to compete in the crowded Philadelphia market, where it's up against three other casinos nearby in Pennsylvania as well as out-of-state competition in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The casino recently rebranded itself Harrah's Philadelphia as part of an effort to bring in more business by marketing itself as a "night-out" destination for customers from farther away.
"We are pleased with the annual slot machine revenue figures and optimistic about the future success of Pennsylvania casinos," gaming board Chairman William H. Ryan Jr. said in a statement. "At the same time, we are fully aware that bordering states will provide more competition for gaming entertainment dollars which can affect the level of growth we are seeing."
Presque Isle is facing new competition from a casino that opened across the state line in Cleveland in May.
Jennifer See, director of marketing for the Erie casino, said competition has had an impact, but casino officials were focusing on making improvements in an effort to attract new customers from New York and Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania. Those efforts include adding more new games, installing new chairs at the slot machines and making enhancements to the food services, she said.
"It's still too soon to tell what the full impact is going to be," she said of competition from neighboring areas.
Other casinos saw significant year-over-year growth. Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia continued its rapid growth with a 60 percent increase in gross revenue - from $118.6 million to $189.9 million. Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh was up 7.9 percent from $262.6 million to $283.4 million and Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem was up 8.4 percent from $264.1 million to $286.2 million.
Pennsylvania taxes gross revenue from slot machines at about 55 percent, generating $1.3 billion last fiscal year, an increase of about 4.8 percent from the year before.
Since the state's first casino opened in November 2006, taxes from slot machine revenue have totaled about $6 billion, according to gaming board totals. The revenue goes toward property tax reductions, the horse racing industry, economic development, fire companies and the state's general fund.
"Bottom line is, revenues are up," gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said. "We'll have to see what 2012 and 2013 holds in terms of any expansion of gaming in bordering states."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.