Report: Slots-Fueled Purses in PA Down 6.5%

Total purses generated by slot machines in Pennsylvania in 2013 dropped 6.57% from the previous year according to a benchmark report released April 9 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The report also shows that the total amount of money wagered on Pennsylvania horse racing increased 3.93% to $807,556,636 last year, up from $776,957,769 in 2012 despite tracks offering 221 fewer races.

The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund earns 11% of revenue from slots at casinos in the state. The state has three Thoroughbred and three Standardbred racetracks.

Purses for both breeds last year totaled $165,608,544, down from $177,269,965 in 2012. The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Breeding Fund paid out $17,125,771 in 2013, down 5.82% from $18,184,986 in 2012, according to PGCB statistics.

On the Standardbred side, the Pennsylvania Standardbred Breeders Development Fund and Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Fund combined were worth $15,995,938, down 7.37% from $17,269,006 in 2012.

"Overall gross terminal revenue generated from slot-machine gaming at the 12 casinos was more than $2.3 billion in 2013," the executive summary of the report states. "However, the amount of tax revenue generated by the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund decreased by approximately 7% in 2013 compared with the same period in 2012 due to a decrease in gross terminal revenue generated by the casinos that host horse racing."

Six Pennsylvania casinos do not offer racing.

The report indicates that purses paid at all racetracks last year totaled $203,262,053. But only $30,841,648, or 16%, was generated by live, export, and import pari-mutuel handle.

A PGCB breakdown of wagering on the state's live product in 2013 shows $719,537,734, or 89.1% of the total, came from locations outside of Pennsylvania. Live on-track handle dropped more than $2 million to $38,293,104; handle at off-track wagering parlors fell more than $2 million to $15,012,194; telephone wagering produced $8,524,659, down almost $3 million from 2012; and play at other tracks in the state dropped more than $5 million to $34,309,112.

The decline in wagering at OTW facilities is mostly attributed to their closure in multiple markets around the state.

The PGCB benchmark report said slots play was considerably higher at racetracks when live racing was held last year. It said horse racing provides "an additional entertainment option" for patrons.

"In fact, average daily gross terminal revenue generated from slot-machine gaming by the six casinos that host horse racing was 16% higher on race days when compared with non-race days in 2013," the report states.

The biggest beneficiary of that was Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, which races Wednesday through Saturday nights. Average daily gross terminal revenue on race days was $744,917 versus $497,536 on non-race days.

The report also indicates four racetracks have spent $52.3 million on "backstretch improvements" since 2009. Parx Racing leads the way with $27.89 million in such expenditures, according to the PGCB.

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