Pennsylvania’s casinos are big job generators.
With 1,991 employees, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is the second largest casino employer in Pennsylvania and one of the largest private employers in Luzerne County. Mount Airy Casino and Resort employs 1,220 people and is one of the largest private employers in Monroe County.
The 12 casinos in the state employed 16,598 people as of June 30, according to numbers released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
A new report from the American Gaming Association showed Pennsylvania casinos paid employees about $439 million in wages, benefits and tips in 2013, but that only included data from eight casinos willing to share the information, said Andrew Smith, senior director of research.
The thousands of jobs that casino gaming has created pay “well above the minimum wage and offer fulfilling careers in a range of professions that extend beyond the casino floor,” said Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association.
“Americans feel more favorably toward casino gaming than ever before and they recognize that gaming creates jobs, boosts small businesses and positively affects local communities,” Freeman said.
Casino jobs were supported by $3.1 billion in gross gaming revenue last year, the second-highest amount in the country behind Nevada, according to the American Gaming Association.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the first casino to open in the state in 2006, paid $51 million in wages, benefits and tips last year, said the casino’s president Mike Bean.
About 250 employees were hired to work in the $50 million, seven-story hotel that opened last year in a variety of jobs.
“We’re proud to have been able to provide this number of jobs and this level of payroll that definitely translates to a benefit for the local economy,” Mr. Bean said. “Additionally, we try to purchase goods and services locally.”
At Mount Airy, 92 percent of employees are residents of Pennsylvania, said John Culetsu, the casino’s general manager and executive vice president. In addition to the casino’s employees, the construction of Mount Airy in 2007 and subsequent capital projects over the last six years created more than 500 local construction jobs, he said.
Meanwhile, statewide casino revenue dropped to nearly $1.52 billion in total gaming revenue from slots and table games in the first half of 2014, a 4.8 percent drop from the first half of last year.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs saw a slight increase of 0.24 percent from about $133.04 million in the first half of 2013. Mount Airy saw a slight drop of 0.6 percent in total revenue from slots and table games from about $90.5 million in the first half of 2013. Mohegan Sun and Mount Airy were the second and third best-performing casinos in the state, respectively. The comparison does not include Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, which wasn’t open for the full first half of 2013.
“We’ve shown moderate growth in the face of some substantial declines throughout the commonwealth,” Mr. Bean said.
With gaming in more markets and casinos competing against each other, Mr. Bean said Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has continued to take initiatives to thrive such as the recent additions of the hotel with a spa, convention center, comedy club and other entertainment. Plans also are on the drawing board for a water park and more shopping opportunities, he said.
It is an economic benefit for the region that casinos provide good-paying jobs, said Satyajit Ghosh, Ph.D., a University of Scranton economist.
The leisure and hospitality industry, tied to casinos and gaming, have remained growth sectors while other sectors have been sluggish in creating jobs, Dr. Ghosh said. Casinos also have resulted in an influx of tourists who may spend money other places, which benefits the local economy, he said