Pa. casinos on winning streak

January 27, 2009 2:39:21 PM PST
Even in dark economic times, the bright lights of casinos lure gamblers to slots parlors in Bensalem and Chester, Pennsylvania. Perhaps some are looking to supplement their income, even though the method is quite risky.

"I think people have a big dream of hitting, like, a million dollars or a big jackpot the easy way," said Mike Alfano of Levittown, Pa.

"I'm very concerned, but like I said it's a getaway. I think it's a getaway for most people," said Retta Saulino of Warrington, Pa.

In the final three months of 2008, Philadelphia Park saw a $190 million increase over 2007. Harrah's Chester Casino took in $45 million more, although it's getting harder to keep the numbers up.

"Our revenues are performing much better than much of the country. But, we're not as strong as we were before this deep economic challenge," said Vince Donlevie of Harrah's Chester.

Pennsylvania casinos may be doing well, but Atlantic City reports an 18% decline in revenues. There is no doubt the poor economy is playing a part, but so is the competition.

"Gas is kind of high, the tolls went up, so it's cheaper to come here," said Rebecca Witherspoon of Olney.

Dr. Linda Knauss is a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Widener University. She sees a correlation between gambling and economic recession.

"When the economic times are bad as they are right now, that heightens people's desire to participate and to gamble, and to take that chance because they just might win this time," Dr. Knauss said. She warns the dream of winning big at any time, but especially now, is dangerous.

Judging from Pennsylvania's casino revenues, it appears to be a gamble many are willing to take.

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