Slump or not, gambling revenue will never meet promised goal

Total monthly revenues from slot machines and table games declined in February for just the third time in Pennsylvania’s short casino gambling history. This will hardly be the last such decline.

Granted revenues from gambling in the state were still high $55.3 million. They were down from $56.6 million in February 2012, which, to be fair, had an extra day due to the leap year.

When added to the slot machine figures released previously, total gross revenue from casino gambling was down 7.7 percent from the same period in 2012. Other months that showed declines were July 2006 and October 2012.

Make no mistake, a ton of money is being spent on gambling in Pennsylvania. But there are signs the inevitable leveling off of revenue from gambling in the state is occurring. It’s inevitable because of the ever-increasing availability of gambling in all of the states surrounding Pennsylvania. There are only so many people with dollars to spend at the multiple gambling venues.

In the end, trends don’t matter all that much. That’s because the amount necessary to achieve what was promised when Gov. Ed Rendell pushed gambling down legislative throats – a significant reduction in school taxes – was always unattainable. That will never change.

The idea of gambling dollars replacing the taxes necessary for public education in Pennsylvania was always pie-in-the-sky thinking.

So now we have a relatively thriving gambling industry without the payoff that was promised.

We never believed in the theory, so we are not surprised by the long-term result. Just disappointed that so many elected officials bought into such a faulty premise.