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Pennsylvania Pulling Away From New Jersey In Gambling Race

When lawmakers passed legislation early last year that allowed casinos to offer table games in Pennsylvania, the state had no idea what they were getting themselves into. In March, Pennsylvania expanded its lead over New Jersey in the casino gambling revenue race that has been brewing for the past year.

Analysts predicted last year that Pennsylvania would surpass New Jersey as the gaming capital of the East Coast by the end of 2012, but the state has far succeeded those predictions. In July of last year, Pennsylvania passed New Jersey in slot revenue, and by the end of the year they had also taken over the table game revenue lead.

In March, Pennsylvania expanded that lead by posting revenue at its 11 casinos of $233.1. That figure eclipsed the previous record for a month in the state, which was $218.3 million in July, the first month table games were operational. The March numbers were helped by the newest casino, the Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened late mast month.

"Virtually every jurisdiction in the country would kill for that kind of growth, especially in a sluggish economy," said Joe Weinert, Senior Vice President of Spectrum Gaming Group. Weinert went on to describe Pennsylvania as the "envy of the casino industry."

The gaming industry in Pennsylvania is relatively new. Legislators did not approve casinos in the state until 2004, but the growth has been swift since then. Last year, when table games were added, many gamblers chose to spend their evenings in Pennsylvania instead of New Jersey, and that trend has continued into the new year.

"The casinos in Pennsylvania are stat-of-the-art facilities," said Graham Darwon. "I used to go to Atlantic City, but that scene has played itself out. Pennsylvania casinos are definitely the place to be these days, and it's not even close. I go at least once a week, and I have no plans on going back to Atlantic City."

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