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Pennsylvania Casinos Drive Need for New Jersey Online Gambling

Apr 9, 2012
Author: Michael Mancini
Pennsylvania Casinos Drive Need for New Jersey Online Gambling

As a bill that would legalize online gambling in New Jersey continues to take small steps forward, recent numbers show that Pennsylvania is solidifying its position as the second-largest gambling market in the United States, surpassing Atlantic City with no signs of giving back that position.

March saw Pennsylvania’s slot machine revenues climb to $233.1 million, an all-time high for the state and an 8.5% increase over the same period in 2011. This comes on the heels of a report earlier in the year that Pennsylvania’s casino market – which includes 11 different casinos throughout the state – is now bringing in more revenue than Atlantic City for the first time since casino gambling began in the state.

The expansion of casino gambling throughout the northeastern United States has been a concern for casino operators in New Jersey for years now. As more and more casinos have been built, former tourists have increasingly turned to casinos that are closer to home for their gambling trips. Pennsylvania was one of the leading sources for gambling tourism for Atlantic City, making the growth of casinos there – especially in the Philadelphia area – especially damaging to the resort town.

One of the hopes of New Jersey legislators who support the bill to legalize online gambling in the state is that it may help bring in more revenue for the struggling Atlantic City casinos. On that promise, the bill passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee by an 11-0 vote.

However, that number may have been a big misleading. While nobody voted against the bill’s passage, at least five senators had concerns with the bill. Most of these were about issues concerning the exclusion of horse racing tracks from the online gambling system, though others were also concerned that the bill might be vetoed once again by Governor Chris Christie, who prevented a similar law from going into effect last year.

Still, some hoped for a quick passage and to get the online gambling sites up and running as fast as possible in an effort to beat Nevada and other states to the punch.

“What we want to do is get this internet gaming up and going before the end of the year, hopefully by September, so that New Jersey can be the first in the nation,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak.

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