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Pennsylvania casino revenues drop for second year, but end 2014 on strong note

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania's casino industry has suffered its second straight year of declining revenue, a reflection of increased competition as East Coast states try to keep their own gamblers at home.

Gross revenue at the state's 12 casinos dropped 1.44 percent in 2014 to just over $3 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. That's on top of a 1.4 percent decline in 2013 after six years of growth.

"Increased competition from surrounding states, which are also offering conveniently located casinos to its highest populations centers such as in Pennsylvania, continues to be the biggest impact to growth here," said gaming board spokesman Dough Harbach.

Yet Pennsylvania fared well compared to next-door neighbor New Jersey, whose gambling industry contracted dramatically last year with the closure of four casinos. And Pennsylvania casinos ended the year on a strong note, with December revenues up more than 8 percent.

Pennsylvania casinos took in $750 million from table games last year, a nearly 3 percent increase over 2013, and collected $2.3 billion from the slots, a 2.7 percent decline.

In November, regulators approved a second casino in Philadelphia amid worries that southeastern Pennsylvania is already saturated. Philadelphia's SugarHouse Casino and developer Bart Blatstein, one of the losers in the four-way competition, have appealed regulators' decision to award the license to Live! Hotel & Casino to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania's casino market is the nation's second largest after Las Vegas in terms of gross revenue, and No. 1 in taxes collected.

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