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Board: March table games revenue sets Pa. record

Patrick Walters, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pennsylvania casinos set a record as they generated $67.4 million in gross revenue from table games last month, an increase of 9 percent over the previous monthly record set a year earlier, according to gaming board figures released Monday.

Boosted by a full month of play at Valley Forge Casino Resort, last month's gross table games revenue was up from March 2012, when the casinos set the previous monthly record of $61.9 million. Combined with March slots revenues announced earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported total gross revenue from gambling in Pennsylvania was up 1 percent over last March, to $296.7 million.

Pennsylvania legalized gambling in 2004 and opened its first casino two years later. The casinos started with strictly slot machines, but table games were introduced in July 2010 and have grown rapidly. In March 2012, with the opening of the Valley Forge casino, the state set what was then a record for gross monthly revenue from table games.

But last month, with Valley Forge operating for a full month and generating $3.5 million from table games, the state set a new mark. In March 2012, that casino was only open for a few days — not a full month — and generated $276,373.

The state uses casino revenue to support the state budget, schools, development projects, volunteer firefighting squads, local governments and horse racing.

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem continued its strong growth in eastern Pennsylvania last month, generating $15.3 million from table games — up more than 25 percent over $12.1 million in March 2012.

Presque Isle Downs Casino in Erie, meanwhile, continued to show declines as it faces new competition from just across the state line in Cleveland, which opened in May. The Erie casino generated $1.3 million in gross revenue from table games last month, down 38 percent from $2.1 million during the same period the year before.

Other casinos, meanwhile, showed less substantial increases and decreases.

Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia was up 6.6 percent over March 2012 to $8 million last month. Elsewhere in the crowded Philadelphia-area market, Parx Casino in Bensalem saw a slight increase and Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack in Chester reported a 6.4 percent decline to $7.3 million.

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh saw its table games revenue stay flat and Hollywood Casino at Penn National in central Pennsylvania was down 5.3 percent.