Pennsylvania once again trumped longtime gambling mecca Nevada and led all states last year with the most tax revenue from commercial casinos.
A full year of operations at Sugar House Casino in Philadelphia and a year of table game operations statewide helped drive Pennsylvania's 9.6 percent increase in gaming tax revenue to nearly $1.5 billion in 2011, the American Gaming Association said in its latest report on gaming revenue in the 22 states that have casinos.
Nevada has the most casino jobs of any other state, with more than 174,000, but casinos there pulled in the country's second-highest payoff in tax revenue at $865 million. Indiana was third, with its 13 casinos providing $846 million to states and localities.
A major factor in how much a state can pull in gaming revenue is the tax rate. Pennsylvania taxes casinos at a rate of 55 percent, compared to Nevada's maximum rate of 7.75 percent.
New Jersey saw the steepest drop in gaming tax receipts at 9.1 percent, yielding $277.6 million for the state. The reason: neighboring Pennsylvania and Delaware both had their first full-year of table games, the AGA report noted.
"There's no question that the Pennsylvania market is, I think, the major reason that we've had such a dramatic downturn over the past couple of years," Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., president of the AGA, told The Associated Press in reference to Atlantic City.
Pennsylvania could have more three more casinos under current law. A license for a resort outside Pittsburgh is in litigation, and another license is tied to a yet-to-be-built racetrack, the AP reported. The gaming board also revoked a license that had been issued to Foxwoods in Philadelphia, and that license may soon be put out to bid again, AP said.
A big part of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's “New Jersey Comeback” effort hinges on revitalizing famed Atlantic City, including the new Revel casino resort that opened in March. Earlier this year, the governor made a plea on YouTube for native New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen to play at Revel over Labor Day, to no avail.
Maryland saw the biggest increase in tax revenue over the last year — a 464.2 percent increase — thanks to the first full year of operations at Maryland's first casino in Perryville and the opening of a second casino in Berlin, sending the state a total of $89.5 million in tax revenue.
Nationwide, commercial casinos provided nearly $8 billion to states and localities in direct gaming taxes — a 4.5 percent increase over 2010 totals, the report said. Commercial casino tax revenues increased in 13 states and declined in nine.