The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has released its twelfth annual ‘Racetrack Casino Benchmark Report,’ taking an in depth look at what impact the state’s casinos have on the Commonwealth’s horse racing industry.
Currently encapsulating ten stand-alone and racetrack casinos as well as two smaller resort casinos and two race and sportsbooks, approximately 17,000 are employed at the facilities with in the region of $1.4bn per annum generated in tax revenue, ten per cent of which was earmarked for the horseracing industry in 2018.
Amongst the findings of the report is that $242m in slot machine tax revenue was generated, representing a 1.3 per cent increase from the previous year’s $238.5m.
This is for the benefit of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund, earmarked for enhancements of race purses and assisting breeding operations located in the Keystone State, providing health and pension benefits for horsemen and supporting agricultural initiatives.
Stating in the report that “the racing industry in Pennsylvania is significant in size and continues to be supported by the success of legalised gaming,” 2018 “proved to be a challenging year” for the horse racing industry following 2017’s positives.
The total wagered for the year fell five per cent to $669m, with a taxable handle also declining three per cent, as the PGCB stressed environmental impacts negatively affecting performance, notably stating “Pennsylvania received record rainfall in 2018”.
The report also lauded a continued investment in backstretch improvement by casinos, which has spent £73m spent since 2006 to build or renovate buildings and structures.
Attendance figures also continued to decline, this time by 15 per cent as numbers reached 582,161 for the period, however the regulator sees cause for optimism: “Increasing attendance can be a challenge for the industry due to alternative forms of entertainment that are available to the general public.
“Additionally, the only option for patrons to place a wager in the past was if they physically made a visit to the racetracks. This evolved with the opening of off-track wagering facilities and then the subsequent improvement in technology allowing patrons to wager from their personal computer or mobile device.
“These new services available to place a wager made it easier and more convenient for patrons to enjoy horse and harness racing, without attending the races at the tracks.”
The horse racing tracks operating in conjunction with casinos in Pennsylvania are:
- Parx Casino in Bucks County.
- Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie County.
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County.
- The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Luzerne County.
- The Meadows Casino and Racetrack in Washington County.
- Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Delaware County.