PENNSYLVANIA BLACKJACK REPORT: RIVERS, MEADOWS, AND PRESQUE ISLE CASINOS
by Mark Gruetze
Mark Gruetze writes the weekly "Player's Advantage" gambling column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Pennsylvania. He has been a skilled recreational casino player for more than 30 years, focusing on blackjack, video poker, and poker. E-mail questions or comments to:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pennsylvania, which ranks No. 3 nationwide for consumer spending on casino gaming, has some of the most player-friendly blackjack rules in the country.
Unlike many other jurisdictions, Pennsylvania requires all casinos in the state to offer the same rules, which include:
(Editor’s note: The house edge against a basic strategy player with the above rules is 0.33% for 6 decks, and 0.36% for eight decks.)
Pennsylvania casinos do not automatically comp alcoholic drinks. The three Western Pennsylvania casinos all offer self-serve soft drink stations in addition to tableside waitress service. Half the floor is stipulated as nonsmoking, but the smoke doesn’t always obey the boundaries.
The state has 10 large casinos plus a small "resort casino" at Valley Forge in King of Prussia, which is open only to hotel guests or people who make at least a $10 purchase on the day they play. Six of the large casinos offer harness racing – three thoroughbred and three harness tracks – plus betting on races across the country on simulcast.
A second resort casino is scheduled to open in 2013, and developers are working on plans for another racetrack casino. A large-casino license has yet to be awarded. State regulators try to keep casinos far enough from each other to limit direct competition.
Here’s a look at the three casinos in Western Pennsylvania...
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