This is no bluff -- casinos have become a $3 billion industry in Pennsylvania.
For the first time, combined revenues from slot machines and table games at the state's 10 casinos hit $3 billion in 2011.
Overall, the $3,024,772,959 generated last year represented a 21.65 percent increase over 2010, when table games were still in their infancy in Pennsylvania. It also signifies the amount gamblers lost in state casinos.
Revenue from table games fueled the increase, jumping 191.2 percent, from $212.5 million in 2010 to $618.9 million last year in the first full year for the form of gambling.
Table games did not debut in Pennsylvania casinos until the summer of 2010.
In all, slots and table game gambling produced $1.4 billion in tax revenue for the state last year, or $128.3 million more than in 2010. The tax revenue is used to finance property tax relief, race horse and economic development funds, the state's general fund, and payments to host municipalities and counties. Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent, and table games at 16 percent.
"Since one of the intents of the gaming act was to provide a significant source of new revenue, it is certainly gratifying to see this continued increase," said William H. Ryan Jr., chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Richard McGarvey, a gaming board spokesman, attributed the increase in revenue last year to a combination of factors.
He said a full year of table games played a role, as did the opening of the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia in 2010. He said the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem were still in a "growth period."
An increase in play also appeared to be a factor, he said.
"Casinos are telling us that they're just seeing more traffic, more people coming through their casinos," he said.
Locally, Rivers Casino generated $343.1 million in combined gambling revenue last year, a 28.2 percent increase over 2010. Slots revenue totaled $275.6 million, and table games revenue $67.5 million.
The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington County produced $282.8 million in combined revenue, a 7 percent increase. Slots revenue equaled $248.5 million, and table games revenue $34.3 million.
Mark Belko: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1262.