Friday, November 17, 2006

$12 million wagered, $1.26 million lost in 2 days at first Pa. slots casino
Friday, November 17, 2006By Tom Barnes and Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
More than 16,000 gamblers poured into the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on its first day of business as the state's first casino, and in two days of operation, gamblers wagered more than $12 million and lost $1.26 million.

State officials, with their 55 percent tax on slots revenue, pocketed nearly $693,000 to use for property tax relief, aid to municipalities and help for the state's horse racing industry.
"It's obvious there is a great interest in gaming as entertainment in Pennsylvania," said Doug Harbach, spokesman for the state Gaming Control Board.

That interest was very evident yesterday at The Meadows in Washington County, where officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the newly christened The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. It is scheduled to open in May as a temporary gaming parlor with 1,700 machines that will spin, beep and flash for the thousands of slots players anticipated each day.

Officials of the track's new owner, Las Vegas-based Cannery Casino Resorts, expect the same eager public appetite for their machines as greeted Tuesday's opening of Mohegan Sun near Wilkes-Barre.

"We wouldn't be making this investment if we didn't expect it," said Bill Paulos, a principal in Cannery Casino Resorts and its parent firm, Millennium Gaming, which finalized the $200 million purchase of The Meadows this week from Magna Entertainment Corp.

The new owners say they are spending an additional $250 million on their temporary and permanent facilities, state gaming license, highway improvements and other costs.

The need to complete the sale of The Meadows has been a factor in slowing development of slots at the Washington County location, Mr. Paulos said.

The Meadows held the ceremonial groundbreaking for its temporary facility, but construction equipment has already been at work for weeks preparing the site adjacent to the parking lot and clubhouse.

The existing clubhouse is to be torn down and replaced in about two years with a larger, two-story facility with a 500-seat theater, multiple restaurants and bars, grandstand for racing and space for up to 3,000 slot machines.

In Luzerne County, Mohegan Sun officials opened their $72.6 million temporary casino promptly at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and by midnight more than 16,000 patrons had poured in to use the 1,096 machines, far exceeding expectations.

Sun Marketing Director Jim Wise didn't have attendance figures for Wednesday or yesterday, but said, "We have been very, very busy. Customer response has been outstanding.''
The difference between the total amount wagered and the amount going to winners is called the gross terminal revenue. More than half of it -- 55 percent -- goes to the state, local municipalities, a special economic development fund, and horse owners and breeders. The other 45 percent goes to the casino owner, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which also has a huge Indian-owned casino in Connecticut.

The state's take breaks down like this: 34 percent for property tax relief, 2 percent for the host county and 2 percent for the host municipality, 5 percent for a special economic development fund and 12 percent for horse owners, breeders and trainers.

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