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McErlean: Pennsylvania Is “The Best Of The Worst”

Published: February 24, 2010 8:18 pm ET

Last Comment: February 25, 2010 6:11 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The sixth annual two-day Pennsylvania Gaming Congress and Mid-Atlantic Racing Forum was held in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania earlier this week igniting discussions between racing officials about future plans for industry improvement.

While purses across the state have increased since the passing of Act 71, which legalized slot machines in the state in 2004, Christopher McErlean, the vice president for gaming for the seven horse racing tracks operated by Penn National Gaming Inc., expressed concern for the future of the industry when he stated that “Racing is struggling overall.”

Industry officials weighed in with recommendations for improvement on Monday and much of the discussions focused on the number of race dates and crossover of casino guests to the racetrack betting machines.

With table games coming to some of the casinos this year, including Pocono Downs, some officials remained optimistic that individuals seeking games requiring skill may be more willing to test their skills at the track. Others suggested that the addition of alternative gaming to racetrack sites is not the long-term fix.

On Tuesday, financial analysts projected that an on-site hotel will be the key to realizing maximum profits at some of the state’s casinos. The panel stressed that hotel rooms and other amenities must be offered to attract high-stakes players.

(With files from the

February 25, 2010 - 6:11 pmAny discussion of

Any discussion of improvements to the Pennsyvlania environment that does not include the lowering of outrageous takeouts, especially on exotic wagering, is futile.

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