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Pennsylvania Passes N.J. to Become No. 2 U.S. Casino Hub

Patrons play blackjack at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photographer: Bradley C. Bower/Bloomberg
Patrons play blackjack at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photographer: Bradley C. Bower/Bloomberg

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Pennsylvania, with a growing gambling industry, passed New Jersey in annual casino revenue to become the second-largest U.S. betting hub behind Nevada last year.

Gross casino revenue increased 4.4 percent to $3.16 billion, Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board said today in an e-mailed statement. On Jan. 10, New Jersey reported revenue for Atlantic City casinos slumped 8 percent to $3.05 billion.

The data underscore the challenges facing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he looks to reinvigorate the tourism and gambling industries after years of decline and the recent superstorm Sandy. The state has lost business as New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland expanded their gambling operations.

“Pennsylvania is a great growth story,” said Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president for communications and government relations at Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp., which has one casino there and four in New Jersey. “Governor Christie has really been trying to reposition Atlantic City as a resort destination.”

Casino revenue in New Jersey has fallen for six straight years since peaking at $5.2 billion in 2006, according to state data. Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation in casino spending in 2011, behind Nevada and New Jersey, according to the American Gaming Association trade group.

New Jersey has 12 casinos after the opening of Revel last year. Pennsylvania has 11. The closely held Parx Casino & Racing, formerly Philadelphia Park Racetrack & Casino, was the state’s largest in revenue with almost $500 million in total, separate reports showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at

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