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stakes for towns such as Bensalem, host to Parx Casino casin

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stakes for towns such as Bensalem, host to Parx Casino casino bonus

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Today at Parx, the spacious single-floor gambling hall fills with an average of 20,000 visitors a day, a steady stream on weekdays, and bigger crowds on weekend nights.

More than 25 percent of Bensalem’s general revenues are generated from Parx, outpacing the amount raised from real estate taxes. In total, the 60,000-resident township receives more than $20 million a year in fees and taxes related to the casino.

Set off busy Street Road, Parx bears flashing digital signs but windowless walls pixelated in unobtrusive shades of tan. In 2006, operating as Philadelphia Park, it was the second casino to open in Pennsylvania, after Mohegan Sun in Wilkes-Barre. As it has expanded and been renovated, it has consistently brought in the highest slots wagers and terminal revenue of Pennsylvania’s now 12 casinos, with Sands Bethlehem following in second place.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, gamblers sat in front of glowing slot machines, their heads all tilted at the same angle, fingers pushing buttons. Some held cigarettes in their idle hand (smoking is allowed on half of the open floor); others, cellphones. The sound of jingling coins poured regularly from machines — not actual bounty, but recordings to entice players.

Pat Lucas, 67, of Lansdale, is one of the many locals who have forsaken Atlantic City for Parx, where she has won playing the slots several times. She and her husband can dash off early in the day and be home by midafternoon.

“All the things that have allowed them to do so well in the land-based arena, assuming they’re willing to make the transition [to online], should allow them to [do] quite well,” said Chris Grove, a gaming analyst at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. “From the outside looking in, it appears to me that Parx is among the most prepared for regulated online gambling in Pennsylvania.”

The funding received by Bensalem itself goes to various needs: The township hired 19 new police officers when the casino opened, directs revenue to emergency services, has not raised real estate taxes — about $460 a household — in 25 years (though it instituted an earned-income tax in 2016), and sends annual homeowner assistance grants to residents that have ranged between $100 and $300 a household each year, said DiGirolamo.

“It’s just to get out and do something different,” Lucas said as the couple finished lunch in the food court after a recent morning of playing the slots. “It’s good to get a break from everything.”

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And he predicts internet won’t cannibalize casinos in Pennsylvania, given that in New Jersey, online gaming has bolstered rather than stolen casino revenue. Operators there have reported that online gaming has brought in new gamblers — the majority of online customers were not active casino patrons — and customers who do play online and on land are actually spending more time doing each than they spent at the casino beforehand, Grove said.

Fourteen years later, the promised revenue has come, the Pennsylvania gambling industry is second only to Nevada’s, and the Bensalem budget has been among the big winners. Parx, built up around that racetrack, is the state’s most successful casino.

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For Bensalem and the 11 other host towns, it means uncertainty. Their finances remain inextricably tied to casino revenues — whether profits go up or down in the coming months.

But the expansion also provides opportunities. Parx’s parent company secured a satellite casino license for $8 million in February, saying it was “an opportunity to leverage the skills and capabilities that we’ve built here at Parx to another similar casino entertainment business.”

Parx also reports a total of $80 million given to charities and local organizations since 2006. It has aimed “to be that kind of economic development generator that would stand tall and help the community grow as we grew,” said Ron Davis, Parx’s director of diversity and community development.

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