Luck Be Lady: Nemacolin Woods Finally Removes Amenity Fee

Posted on June 20, 2019

Patrons of Lady Luck Casino will be greeted in a different way during their next visit.

With no access fees.

What a warm welcome from the sometimes elusive but always welcome lady luck.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) accepted the $1 million payment on June 17 to lift the $10 per visit access fee.

The top of Lady Luck Casino’s homepage touted: “Access Granted No More Entry Fee” with two smiling people holding the doors open. It also states that “effective June 17, 2019, the ‘Patron To The Amenity’ restriction ($10 access fee) nor the Nemacolin Experience membership are required for casino entrance.”

Strong words for an access fee

State Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Bullskin Township, vice chairman of the Senate Community and Economic Development Committee, oversees the gaming board. He told the Herald-Standard he fought to remove the access fee from Category 3 casinos like Lady Luck.

“This is an exciting step forward for Lady Luck Casino,” said Stefano. “I have seen, firsthand, people come to the casino intending to play right here in our community only to turn around and walk out the door upon learning of the access fee.”

The vice president and general manager of the casino, Gary Hendricks, echoed similar sentiments.

“I am excited that the barrier has been removed to allow guests to enter the casino at no charge. In addition, I would like to thank our loyal guests who have stayed with us for almost six years in spite of this deterrent.”

Following in the footsteps of Valley Forge

In October 2017, Pennsylvania Legislature passed a sweeping gaming reform. The bill contained a provision that allows the state’s Category 3 “resort” casinos to eliminate the state-mandated amenity fee requirement for a one-time payment of $1 million.

Valley Forge Casino Resort wrote the state a check for $1 million faster than a dollar disappears at the penny slots.

Valley Forge Casino Resort President and CEO Eric Pearson said at the time:

“Since opening five years ago, we have been constrained by the amenities requirements and membership fees which have confused and frustrated our guests. We are thrilled to be able to welcome our guests to our casino in the same manner as the other Pennsylvania casinos. Lifting this special requirement for guests to enter the casino allows us to better serve our existing guests, and puts us in a better position to attract new visitors to our property.”

Revenue on the rise

Valley Forge Casino Resort’s revenue has soared since it made the one-time payment of $1 million.

Lady Luck Casino took its sweet time, which ended up being a costly decision. Revenue has continued to decline.

Valley Forge Casino Resort (compared to 2017 numbers)

Slots: $91.3 million (2018 overall), +10.35%

Table games: $38.2 million (2018 overall), +10.96%

Lady Luck Casino (compared to 2017 numbers)

Slots: $28.2 million (2018 overall), – 6.24%

Table games: $4 million  (2018 overall), -11.32%

Why did Lady Luck Casino wait?

Why didn’t Lady Luck Casino fork over the charge as fast as Valley Forge Casino Resort?

A few likely reasons:

Lady Luck was in the midst of a management change. In March 2019, Churchill Downs acquired certain assets related to the management of Lady Luck Nemacolin for cash consideration of $100,000. Eldorado Resorts retains ownership of the property.

Valley Forge Casino Resort is in a more prime location than Lady Luck Casino. Farmington, PA (pop. 767) is a far cry from King of Prussia (pop. 19,936). With the affluent Main Line nearby, along with the King of Prussia Mall and easy access to the Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Valley Forge Casino felt the $1 million fee was a safe bet.

Lady Luck Casino is a small casino lucky to hit $3 million in gross gaming revenue in a month. If revenue increased by 5% after removing the amenity fee, it would take Lady Luck roughly a year to recoup the one-time payment.

However, with the amenity fee lifted, patrons will be greeted by a more welcoming Lady Luck.

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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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