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stakes for towns such as Bensalem, host to Parx Casino casin(4)

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How the new smorgasbord of gambling activities set to launch this year will affect casinos depends on “whether existing consumers view the new options as complements or substitutes to existing casinos,” said Simon Condliffe, an economist at West Chester University.

“To me, it’s kind of killing the golden goose that lays the eggs,”  DiGirolamo said. “I don’t know how far they can take gambling. The more they put in, to me, the more it’s going to deplete us here.”

If the casino’s business falters, “it would be, I would say, almost catastrophic for us,” said Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo. If the township lost its income from the casino, he said, it would have to raise taxes or make major cuts in the police department, which makes up 72 percent of the budget.

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“It ends up being a one-plus-one-equals-three situation, as opposed to one plus one equals two or one plus one equals less than two, which is what I think some skeptics are afraid of,” he said.

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Here’s how much Parx Casino returns to Bensalem and Bucks County in fees and taxes each year. Amounts are in millions.

“It actually adds up to millions of dollars’ savings in tax dollars,” said Bob White, executive director of the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority, which is in charge of distributing about $3.5 million to $3.8 million a year to neighboring municipalities. Projects have included new police radios, street repairs, and stoplights that emergency responders can control.

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Outside the casino, Bensalem is a hodgepodge of strip malls and residential structures, along the northeastern border of Philadelphia. Faded signs in outdated stylings layer against one another along the edges of the crowded highways that crisscross the township.

“The casino has been a great partner … not just a civic partner but a financial partner,” said DiGirolamo, who has been in office since 1994. He says he does not gamble — he’s been to Parx to eat but not play.

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Published: March 30, 2018 — 3:01 AM EDT | Updated: April 2, 2018 — 5:08 AM EDT

Parx declined to comment on online gaming and had lobbied against it, but the internet potentially presents the same opportunity. Parx has already launched a money-free “social gaming” site, building a list of users primed for actual wagering, and has a , indicating they will be ready to go once online gaming begins.

That means people will either ditch casinos for something new or will “dip more deeply into their wallets and spend more on gaming overall,” he said.

It was in Bensalem Township that then-Gov. Ed Rendell signed Pennsylvania’s casino gambling bill into law. At the site of what is now Parx Casino, in the winner’s circle of a fading racetrack, casinos began in 2004 as a “historic” initiative to bring money to the declining horse-racing industry and tax revenue to the state.

And, a sea change is underway as the state’s radical gaming expansion creaks into motion with online gaming, mini-casinos, online lottery, and opportunities to gamble at airports and truck stops. On Monday, the state will begin accepting applications from online gaming manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers.

Still, the Bensalem mayor, overseeing a budget now reliant on Parx’s success, wonders how much wagering can expand before the state is saturated.

For the casinos, including Parx, it means more competition but also opportunities to expand, and experts say how it affects the casino bottom line remains to be seen.

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