HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The state’s Gaming Control Board approved another mini-casino on Wednesday for Shippensburg. While it might feel like there are too many gambling places in Pa., the numbers suggest otherwise.
Parx will get the state’s fourth mini-casino. It’s going to Shippensburg and could open by November. But in a world gone virtual and online gaming exploding, is brick and mortar still a good bet?
“Online gaming is not necessarily the same experience or the same customer as someone who likes to visit a facility and enjoy other amenities like the bar or restaurant,” John Dixon of COO Greenwood Racing Inc. said.
Slot machine revenues are back to pre-pandemic levels across the commonwealth. Ass in internet gaming and sports wagering and you get record profits. The state was a big winner in 2021 collecting just under two billion dollars in tax revenue. Gaming board members are sure another mini-casino will only boost that.
“We have not seen them take away revenue from existing casinos but indeed generate new revenue which was the intention,” Pa. Gaming Control Board Spokesman Doug Harbach said.
Parx spent eight million dollars for the license to put a mini-casino in Shippensburg and wants to start recouping on the investment. It’s sure this is an underserved area but admits there aren’t many of those left.
“If you look at the map, the most populated parts of Pennsylvania have now got a casino within 20-30 minute drive time but we’re probably getting quite close to being enough locations to service the needs of Pennsylvania,” Dixon said.
The pandemic did take a bite out of the bottom line. In 2020, nearly 1500 (1473 actually) gaming days were lost due to COVID closures. Last year it was just 44, all in January.
But now, when it comes to casinos in Pa., it’s been a sure thing. If they build them. You will come. And leave a few dollars behind.
They may be called mini-casinos but they’re not so mini. The largest of them, in Pittsburgh, did eight million dollars in slots revenue just last month.