The good news is that gross revenues from slot machines in Pennsylvania were up 5.7 percent in August.
The 11 casinos generated $210.6 million in August, an increase over $199.2 million in August 2011.
Sounds like a lot of revenue and it is.
But $4 million of the increase came from the Valley Forge Casino Resort, which was not in operation in August of 2011.
The gross casino revenue was up 3.7 percent when looking solely at casinos that were open at that time.
And among the four casinos showing declines, the most significant was in Erie, near the Ohio border.
Facing stiff, new competition from Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, Ohio's first casino, the Erie casino's revenues were down 9.2 percent from August 2011.
And so it will go with the state's slots business. With the competition growing from Ohio and already established in West Virginia and New Jersey, it will be a difficult proposition to consistently grow the revenue numbers from Pennsylvania's slots.
No matter how much those revenues grow, always keep in mind the premise that was sold to Pennsylvanians when the slots deal was strong-armed through the state Legislation by the Rendell administration in 2004.
Pennsylvania is taxing casino revenues and using it to support the state budget, public schools, civic development projects, volunteer firefighting squads, local governments and the horse racing industry.
All that is happening, but not at the level promised by the proponents of legalized gambling in Pennsylvania.
Remember, always, that these revenues were supposed to substantially decrease local school taxes and, more than once, Gov. Rendell hinted the revenue might be enough to eliminate local school taxes.
Those projections were wildly and unrealistically optimistic then, the same is true today and the same will be true in the future.
Slots were then, and remain now, a very questionable proposition when considering what their purpose is supposed to be.
-- From the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.