Comparing Pennsylvania and Atlantic City Casinos

Atlantic City casinos existed decades before Pennsylvania ones opened. That gave Atlantic City a long head start. It did not take long after Pennsylvania legalized tables for the state to overtake New Jersey as the second largest gaming market. The two markets are comparable in terms of revenues. Here is how the casinos are different.

Pennsylvania blackjack rules are better

Pennsylvania gaming rules require casinos to offer minimum blackjack rules. These are about as player-friendly as it gets. Blackjack must pay 3:2. The dealer stands on soft 17. Players may double down before and after splitting. Late surrender is available. Pennsylvania casinos can decide rules on splitting.

Atlantic City blackjack tables typically require at least a $25 bet to stand on all 17’s. Some casinos require $100 for this rule. Surrender is not widely available in Atlantic City. 

Most Atlantic City blackjack tables pay 3:2 these days. Surrender and re-split aces are becoming more standard. These loosening of Atlantic City blackjack rules seems to be a competitive answer to the codified rules in Pennsylvania. 

Atlantic City video poker is much better than in Pennsylvania

Most Atlantic City casinos offer at least 9/6 Double Double Bonus. Some have 9/6 Jacks or Better, 8/5 Bonus Poker or 9/7 Double Bonus. These games are nearly impossible to find in Pennsylvania. Most video poker is in the 97-98% range at Pennsylvania casinos. We only found 9/6 Jacks or Better at one casino in the state.

The reason for this seems to be the tax rate. Atlantic City casinos pay 9.25% of gross gaming revenues. In Pennsylvania, the tax rate on slots and video poker is 54%. This substantial difference makes it difficult for Pennsylvania casinos to compete with Atlantic City on video poker. It is likely the reason for the higher percentage of video poker machines at Atlantic City casinos compared to ones in Pennsylvania. 

Table game comparisons

The number of live table games is about level between the casinos in each market, excluding the smallest Pennsylvania casinos. There are 22 different table games available to play in Atlantic City. There are 26 between all Pennsylvania casinos.

The unique games in Atlantic City are Flop Poker and Blackjack Switch. We found those games in Atlantic City but not in any Pennsylvania casino. 

In Pennsylvania, Cajun Stud, Crazy 4 Poker, sic bo, Three Card Prime, Free Bet Blackjack and Down Under Blackjack are available. We did not find any of these games in Atlantic City casinos. 

Location

The two casino markets take two different approaches. It would be easy to visit and play at all Atlantic City casinos in a day. It would not require traveling more than a few miles. This makes it more of a destination market. Visiting every Pennsylvania casino on the same day would require driving around 1,000 miles.

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