The house always wins ...

Written by Bill Toland on .

empty-pockets... and now it seems to be winning just a little bit more, according to the PG's Mark Belko:

"Are Pennsylvania casinos getting stingier? It sure looks that way. ... In December, casinos paid out an average of 90.24 cents on every dollar wagered, or 90.24 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. That's down almost a percentage point from December 2009, when the average payout was 91.07 percent. In December 2007, it was 91.36 percent."

... the casino's gain is the Moose lodge's loss, reports the Valley News Dispatch:

"The Brackenridge American Legion, after being hit with three liquor law violations in two years, has dealt itself out of the video gambling business.

R.J. Collins, post commander and president of the Post Home Association, said he had the four video poker and video slot machines removed Feb. 8 from the premises on First Avenue. The next day, Post 226 began serving a five-day suspension of its liquor license for allegedly making payouts on the machines. It was fined $1,000. ... Frank Svitek, a World War II veteran and the post's financial officer, said it cost $382,000 to operate the post in 2010. Collins said the video gambling proceeds covered about 25 percent of the organization's annual budget."

Dispatches from the border

Ohio is really where the action is at these days, as the state rushes to open its casinos in 2012. That timeline seems ambitious, given that the board that will write the regs that oversee the industy met for the very first time just recently. Oh, and they haven't figured out how to fund the thing yet:

"A commission established to regulate Ohio's new casino industry will need an extension of this week's deadline to establish license application rules for the facilities. The seven-member Casino Control Commission appointed by Republican Gov. John Kasich met for the first time Monday. The Columbus Dispatch reports that commission chairwoman Jo Ann Davidson said the group does not have money for needed staff and that she's working with the budget office to find funding. She says an application process must be determined by June 1 if casinos are to open in early 2012."

In November 2009, Ohio voters approved casinos for Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo.

... What happens when you put a lot of incontinent seniors in a casino and they play the slots for seven straight hours? That's an excellent, if digusting, question:

"Penn National Gaming's idea to pump sewage from its planned Franklin Township casino into a deep well would be a first in Ohio. Locked in a stalemate with Columbus officials over annexation, the Pennsylvania-based company advanced the idea of 'deep-well injection' for its casino sewage in a Feb. 22 memo sent to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. ... Ten injection wells operate in Ohio, and they deal exclusively with industrial waste. Three companies own them; each sends millions of gallons of waste into a porous layer of sandstone about 3,000 feet underground."

Say, isn't that the exact technology causing earthquakes in Arkansas right now? And wouldn't it be easier to just, you know, hook up with the Columbus sewer authority? Digging a big hole and tossing all of your raw sewage in it is kind of what they do in third-world countries.

... at our eastern border is New Jersey, where the hits keep coming: "Tropicana Casino and Resort [in Atlantic City] has trimmed its work force in response to a slowdown in business blamed on the sluggish economy and competition from gaming halls in surrounding states. Mark Giannantonio, Tropicana's chief executive officer, said 56 employees were laid off in departments throughout the organization."

... geez, we sure have a lot of bordering states here in Pennsylvania. Will they build two new casinos in Delaware?: "As they prepare for battle in the Delaware General Assembly again, proponents of two new casinos in Delaware are trying to sell the projects this year as the source of hundreds of new jobs. 'The way you break out from a recession is to build big projects that put people back to work. And that's what this does,' said House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, who also tried last year to legalize new casinos."

Odds and ends

The PGCB reminds you that it is not OK to steal other people's chips ... also, it not OK to gamble if you have a problem with gambling, which is why this is Problem Gambling Awareness Week ... also, it is not OK to just switch cards back and forth between two different poker hands ... Pennsylvania had strong year-over-year February numbers, with slotsĀ  up 18 percent over 2010 (due partly to the SugarHouse casino in Philadelphia opening in the interim) ...

Why is the SEC looking into Las Vegas Sands, which runs the Sands Bethworks casino in Bethlehem, Pa.?

The company revealed in its annual report filing with the SEC that government regulators filed a request for documents on Feb. 9. Las Vegas Sands officials said the company also was advised by the Justice Department that it was conducting a similar investigation.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli said he was aware of the government's probe into Las Vegas Sands.

"The matter is the subject of a current investigation by our agency and we have no further comment," Lipparelli said.

Las Vegas Sands, in a one-paragraph comment under the legal proceedings section of its annual report, said it believes the request emanated from allegations contained in a lawsuit filed by Steven Jacobs, the company's former chief executive of its operations in Macau, who was fired last summer.

Jacobs sued Las Vegas Sands in Clark County District Court in October, alleging breach of contract. In his lawsuit, Jacobs claims a Las Vegas Sands subsidiary transferred substantial sums of money out of Macau to Nevada.

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