Parx Casino has officially expanded to Shippensburg.
In a grand opening to the public on Friday, Feb. 3, Parx Shippensburg opened for business.
Parx Shippensburg hosted two rounds of testing days on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, and officially soft opened as the 17th Pennsylvania casino on Jan. 26.
PlayPennsylvania spoke with Parx officials and patrons on expansion, the smoke-free environment and what lies ahead.
Parx Casino Shippensburg details
Parx Shippensburg won an auction to build a Category 4 casino in Cumberland County in 2018. The Shippensburg casino finally opened on Feb. 3 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the public to view.
Parx executives were on-hand for the grand opening, including CEO Eric Hausler.
The Shippensburg casino takes up 73,000 square feet, with plenty of parking. Parx also features 500 slot machines, 48 electronic table games and a sportsbook. The new location has a 100-seat restaurant with a full bar.
Why did Parx expand to Shippensburg?
In addition to Shippensburg, Parx plans to serve visitors from the Carlise, Chambersburg and Mechanicsburg area.
Within the 25-to-30-mile radius of Parx Shippensburg, Chief Marketing Officer Marc Oppenheimer said that there are approximately 500,000 people across many communities. The new casino is now the closest gambling entertainment option for them.
Parx Shippensburg is 55 miles southwest of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and is 62 miles from Hollywood Casino York.
Parx is taking over a former Lowe’s that closed down, and Oppenheimer said the Parx team saw this location as the perfect option.
“This facility had the perfect infrastructure for what we needed to be able to put a casino here,” Oppenheimer told PlayPennsylvania. “It had a solid building already built, a great parking lot that was in good shape, conveniently located off I-81. All of the different factors came together that told us this location makes a lot of sense.”
Though Parx faces two casinos that are roughly an hour drive, General Manager Kevin Brady believes the culture sets them apart.
“Parx Bensalem is the No. 1 property in the entire state of Pennsylvania. We have great fundamentals, great training, great culture and great ownership and we brought that to Shippensburg,” Brady told PlayPennsylvania. “We firmly believe as an organization that our employees make the difference between us and our competition.”
Parx Shippensburg staying smoke-free
Parx Bensalem was the first casino in the state to remain smoke-free after Pennsylvania ended mask mandates in June 2021.
The operator brought its smoke-free philosophy to the new Shippensburg location, too.
“We’ve seen two things from it. No. 1, it has not hurt us business and revenue wise at all and No. 2, our employees are very, very happy to not be working in an environment with secondhand smoke all the time.”
With Parx’s employees expressing happiness in the casino staying smoke-free, Oppenheimer said he believes Parx has had less employee turnover than its competition, though it’s admittedly difficult to discern.
One thing that is easy to recognize is the overall morale of Parx’s employees.
“Our employee engagement surveys and employee morale has gone way up and frankly, we’re starting to see our healthcare cost going down a little bit,” Oppenheimer said.
Oppenheimer also noted that non-smoking guests continue to love the environment, and even smokers are coming around.
“Our smoking guests have actually said things like ‘I never realized how smoky and annoying it was. I really don’t mind walking 50 feet to the smoking patio.’”
Parx Casino Shippensburg promotions and customer base
Parx Shippensburg determined that the Shippensburg area would attract customers that desire a shorter drive from the Hollywood casinos. It is not necessarily a new market of brand new players.
“Our thought is the majority of people coming to play with us won’t be brand new to casino entertainment, they’ll have some experience,” Oppenheimer said. “It’s one of the reasons why we’re opening with a tier match program. If someone comes in and brings us a high tier card from any of the other players, we’ll match them into that tier with us.”
Visitor reaction to Parx Shippensburg
Sherettea and Adam are natives of Chambersburg and made an appearance at the Parx Shippensburg grand opening.
Sherettea’s top priority of a casino is the cleanliness, and Parx Shippensburg passed the first test. Sherettea also said, unprompted, that she’s happy Parx Shippensburg is nonsmoking. Adam, who smokes, doesn’t mind smoking on the outdoor patio.
Adam and Sherettea said they made the hour drive to Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course often to gamble. Crowdedness is a big factor in where the pair intend to gamble moving forward.
“I would come here during the day time and go to Hollywood at night, Sherettea said. “There’s more room at Hollywood than here at night because you have the college kids. You might have to wait to get on the slot machine you want.”
Pat and Tina, from Temple and Marion Heights PA, were on their way to Virginia for a motorcycle convention. When they heard the new casino opened, they wanted to stop in.
The games are the most important aspect for Pat and Tina when visiting a casino. They were each waiting in line for their tier cards, so they didn’t play any yet, but said they plan to be back in the future.