Launch dramatically increases the stakes for casino markets across the Northeastern United States

Pennsylvania is launching live table games Thursday, dramatically increasing the stakes for casino markets across the Northeastern United States.

Atlantic City in neighboring New Jersey appears to be the market with the most to lose. Analysts predict Pennsylvania will grab a 20 percent share of the seaside resort’s annual table win, according to The Press of Atlantic City, sparking fears that weaker Boardwalk properties such as Trump Marina Hotel Casino, Resorts Atlantic City and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort may not be able to survive.

“We see Atlantic City, the United States’ second-largest gaming market, continuing to be negatively impacted over the next five to seven years and we would not be surprised if a number of casinos close before it’s over,” veteran gaming analyst Lawrence Klatzkin, of Chapdelaine Credit Partners, wrote in a recent research report cited by The Press.

The Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pa., and The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington will be the first to go live on Thursday. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs near Wilkes-Barre, Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono and the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville will follow on July 13. Parx Casino in Bensalem, Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack and the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem will be the final three to offer table games, starting July 18.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has staggered the schedule to conduct tests at each casino and make sure there are no glitches before real wagering begins. Pennsylvania’s foray into table games comes just a few weeks after the three racetrack casinos in Delaware did the same thing.

Table games have become more critical as casinos in surrounding states vie for gambling customers in a sluggish economy.