Slots Revenue Increases in Pennsylvania for a Sixth Straight Year

Slot machine revenue rose in Pennsylvania last year for a sixth consecutive year.   There was a 2.7% increase in gross revenue from slot machine gaming in 2012. The numbers were boosted in part by the opening of the Valley Forge Resort Casino.   Six of the existing casinos posted increases for the year, while four saw declines in slots play.

SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia posted the biggest gain, increasing slots play by more than 11% over the previous year. Presque Isle Downs and Casino saw the biggest decline at more than 9%.

Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says fluctuations are expected, especially as gaming expands in neighboring states.    Gaming is expanding in Ohio and Maryland. But Pennsylvania’s newest resort casino is expected to open later this year in Fayette County.

Tax revenue generated by the play of slots topped 1.3 billion dollars last year. Pennsylvania’s first casino opened in November of 2006.

The Board also posted monthly slot machine revenue for December. There was a decrease of 2% for the month compared to December of 2011.

The casino industry in Pennsylvania employs more than 16 thousand people, while providing funds for property tax relief, the horse racing industry, economic development and community-based projects.

Numbers for table games won’t be out until later this month.

cows, dairy

97th Pennsylvania Farm Show Opens Saturday

The weather forecast is fair, and officials expect more than 400,000 visitors over the eight-day Pennsylvania Farm Show.  “We’re dealing with about 24-acres under roof, just about a million square feet under roof, and that includes three arenas and eight major halls,” explains Farm Show Complex Executive Director Pat Kerwin.  It’s considered the largest indoor agricultural event in the country. 

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig is double-booked all week long as the Farm Show’s unofficial host.  “I want to represent each faction of agriculture and in Pennsylvania we have a very diverse agriculture group,” Greig tells Radio PA.  Greig is a dairy farmer from Crawford County and says the Farm Show is also a good time to reconnect with old friends from western PA. 

The famed Farm Show Food court churned out 140,000 milkshakes last year, and more than 22,500 dozen potato doughnuts.  New fare for this year’s show includes bacon on a stick, pumpkin funnel cakes and apple cider slushies, but you can’t go wrong with the old standards.  “I like the fried cheese, milkshakes and roast beef sandwiches with horseradish.  I’m a big horseradish person,” says Greig. 

Some of the new attractions for the 2013 show include the Great Grape Stomp, a new wine tasting area and a polo demonstration.  “But the thing that seems to be getting a lot of attention – which is somewhat odd in my opinion – is cow patty bingo,” Kerwin explains.  Just picture a giant bingo card on the large arena floor with roaming bovines providing their own special markers.

The 97th PA Farm Show runs from this Saturday through Saturday January 12th at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.  Admission is free; parking will cost you ten dollars.

Governor Corbett Announces Lawsuit Against NCAA Over Penn State Penalties

Governor Corbett is suing the NCAA in an effort to have the sanctions against Penn State thrown out.  He announced the federal anti-trust suit in State College.

The Governor is calling the sanctions against Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal arbitrary and illegal.  He said after months of research, he has concluded the sanctions were overreaching. He says they didn’t punish those charged, they punished past, present and future students of the University. Corbett believes the NCAA had no authority to punish the school.

Governor Corbett says Penn State had no practical alternative but to accept the sanctions.  He says the NCAA seized upon the opportunity for publicity for their own benefit to make a showing of aggressive discipline on the backs of the citizens of the Commonwealth and Penn State University.

The Governor consulted with Attorney General Linda Kelly before proceeding with the legal action, but did not consult with incoming Attorney General Kathleen Kane.  He says the suit is not a political case, it’s being filed on behalf of the citizens of Pennsylvania, the businesses in State College and Centre County and throughout Pennsylvania that are being harmed by this.

The sanctions banned the school from bowl games for four years. They also stripped the school of  a number of scholarships and removed 112 victories from the record books.

The NCAA issued a statement calling the legal action without merit, saying  it’s an affront to all of the victims in this tragedy. The University issued a statement saying it’s not a party to the suit and has not been involved in its preparation.


United Way Calls for Review of Welfare Savings

As state lawmakers enter the 2013 budget cycle, the head of Pennsylvania’s United Way wants an independent review of a 2011 law that paved the way for $400-million dollars in savings at the Department of Public Welfare.  United Way of Pennsylvania President Tony Ross says Act 22 gave the DPW secretary unprecedented authority to implement new regulations in order to achieve the savings.  “We think it’s very important for policymakers and others to have information about what those cost containment measures meant – in terms of waste, fraud & abuse, and also impact on vital services,” Ross says. 

Ross tells Radio PA there’s anecdotal evidence on both fronts, but an independent review can get to the bottom of it.  “We don’t particularly have a preference,” he says of whether it comes from the Auditor General, Independent Fiscal Office or the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee. 

DPW spokeswoman Donna Morgan says a lot went into the attainment of the $400-million in savings, not just Act 22.  She points out that no legal challenges have been filed since the law passed the General Assembly and was signed by the governor.  “It’s not about just cutting here and cutting there,” Morgan explains.  “It’s about making these programs more efficient, breaking down the barriers between different programs and providing more flexibility so that tax dollars can be used more efficiently.” 

Welfare spending accounts for over 38% of the current General Fund budget, and mandatory medical assistance costs alone are expected to increase by $650-million dollars in the new fiscal year, according to the Mid-Year-Budget Briefing.