Gambling Revenues Rebound in Pennsylvania, Report Says | Pennsylvania

(The Center Square) – After falling 22.2% a year ago, Pennsylvania gaming revenue from casinos and other sources is rebounding this year, according to a recent independent analysis.

But amid encouraging preliminary information, the director of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a Pittsburgh-based think tank, warns of heavy gambling addiction as a source of income, pointing to unknowns on the horizon. .

In a recent guidance noteExecutive Director Frank Gamrat combed through the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board data over a six-year period and how the revenue stream has changed over the past several years.

Last year, gaming revenue declined $ 0.76 billion, from $ 3.41 billion in 2019 to $ 2.65 billion in 2020. The figures include closures induced by the Governor Tom Wolf for all or part of four months throughout 2020 – March, April, May and December.

But the pre-pandemic move to legalize internet gambling – or, as they say in Pennsylvania, iGaming – in mid-2019 softened the blow of what could have been an even more dramatic drop in the revenue stream. Its deployment in the second half of 2019 totaled $ 33.6 million, but climbed to $ 565.8 million for all of 2020.

“As has happened to most industries, Pennsylvania casinos have been hit hard during the pandemic,” Gamrat wrote in the guidance document. “But the losses were not as heavy as they could have been, thanks to the advent of internet gambling, which cushioned the blow created by the mandatory casino closings.”

Gamrat’s analysis of the rebound in gaming revenue since the start of the year looked at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board numbers from January through April. The board has since released figures for May, suggesting further growth in the first half of 2021.

Slots are the most lucrative form of gambling revenue in Pennsylvania because of a gross terminal income formula, or GTR, which funnels 34% of the state’s share of proceeds into cash relief. property tax and an additional 20% split between tourism, development of racehorses funds and contributions to local communities.

Last year, statewide casino GTR totaled $ 1.355 billion, more than $ 1 billion less than reported in the years leading up to the pandemic.

“In 2021, there appears to be a statewide rebound in the GTR,” Gamrat said. “First, another mini-casino in Philadelphia opened, bringing the total to 14. Second, as the pandemic began to subside as vaccines increased, more players returned to casinos.”

Other sources of gaming revenue have also seen revenue increases since the start of the year, including table games and sports betting. As its second anniversary approaches, iGaming is holding its own as well, although more and more people are returning to brick and mortar casinos.

But amid the upbeat projections, Gamrat said he believes the unknowns of the future should make state government officials rely too heavily on gaming revenue as a dedicated budget item.

“What happens when the economy has a serious downtown, discretionary spending shrinks, and the federal government is unable to provide a bailout? Gamrat said. “Politicians may lack the means to expand gambling options.”

In his guidance note, Gamrat said deeper questions should also be considered about gambling, which is inherently a recreational outlet.

“Pennsylvania shouldn’t rely on the gaming industry to support its economy or keep its tax coffers full,” he said. “And, certainly, he cannot afford to ignore the social ills and costs that can accompany gambling addiction.”

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