Pa. took a gamble on casinos, earnings now beat NJ

If you've got the second-best hand in poker, you still lose. But when it comes to casino revenue, second place is a powerful position.

Pennsylvania's 2012 earnings have solidified its spot as the second largest gambling market in the country. It pulled in a 4.4 percent increase in revenue last year, or $3.16 billion dollars, compared to New Jersey's $3.05 billion.

“The goal of legalized gambling in Pennsylvania was introduced to keep money in our borders,” said Doug Harbach, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

It was a plan that worked. Back in 2006, Pennsylvania rolled the dice, battling opponents to open the first round of slot machines at casinos. Rising profits have been welcomed ever since.

“The commonwealth is collecting, between table games and slot machines, about $4 million dollars a day in revenue that wasn't there a couple of years ago,” Harbach said.

2006 just so happened to be the most profitable year for Atlantic City. The same year Pennsylvania casinos opened, New Jersey topped out with $5.2 billion dollars in earnings. Since then, its profits have been on a steady decline.

In November, Atlantic City was paralyzed by Hurricane Sandy and felt a 27 percent dip in revenue in the weeks following.

While Pennsylvania still trails Nevada by several billion dollars, the commonwealth does own the top spot for casino tax revenue.

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