Behind Those Pa. Gaming Numbers; Is the Bloom off the Supposed Rose That Has Been Legalized Gambling in Pennsylvania? [Derived Headline]

By McNICKLE, Colin | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 7, 2017 | Go to article overview

Behind Those Pa. Gaming Numbers; Is the Bloom off the Supposed Rose That Has Been Legalized Gambling in Pennsylvania? [Derived Headline]


McNICKLE, Colin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Is the bloom off the supposed rose that has been legalized gambling in Pennsylvania?

Number crunching by two scholars at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy suggests that could be the case.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says gross total gaming revenues -- combining slot machines and table games -- exceeded $3.2 billion in 2016.

While slot machine revenue was slightly down in 2016 from 2015, the board says table-games revenue reached a record high.

And while it is true that combined revenues reached the highest level to date, some perspective on the number is needed, say think tank researchers Frank Gamrat and Jake Haulk.

Indeed, gross gaming revenues reached $3.213 billion last year. But that's only a small gain (1.25 percent) over 2015, they note.

And notwithstanding 2016's increase, gaming revenue has risen by a mere 1.7 percent from 2012's $3.16 billion figure, they add.

"To put this in context, consumer prices have climbed just under 5 percent over the (same) four years which means in real, inflation- adjusted terms, 2016 revenue was about 3 percent below the 2012 reading," Gamrat and Haulk remind.

And there's another factor to consider as the fortunes of slots wane and those of table games wax, the Pittsburgh scholars say.

"It is important to note that while the popularity of table games is driving the gaming revenue gains, the tax rate on table games is about a third of the rate leveled on slots revenue," Gamrat and Haulk note.

Table games are taxed at 14 percent.

Slots revenue is taxed at 54 percent. …

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