Parx Puts Hotel Construction On Hold Due To PA Skill Games Legality Ruling

Written By Corey Sharp on July 1, 2024
Two yellow construction hard hats hanging on a hook. Parx Casino originally had plans to build a 300-room luxury room hotel. However, the looming decision over skill games forced it to pivot.

Parx Casino Bensalem had plans of building a 15-story, 300-room luxury hotel on property. Those plans have been put on hold after parent company, Greenwood Racing Inc., acquired The Inn at Fox Chase last week. Parx officials are citing the unresolved nature of Pennsylvania skill games as the reason for the change in direction.

Once the legality of skill games is decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Parx could invest in its own hotel, after all.

Parx not prepared for hotel construction amid skill games uncertainty

Parx Casino had its sight set on a luxury hotel after receiving zoning approval from the Bensalem Township December 2022. And in March 2023, the township approved Parx’s plan to build the establishment hotel on campus.

However, Parx had to pivot by buying The Inn at Fox Chase because of uncertainty surrounding the skill games debate.

“Until we have greater clarity on those things, we weren’t comfortable making a nine-figure investment,” Parx Chief Marketing Officer, Marc Oppenheimer, told the Philadelphia Business Journal last week.

Oppenheimer hinted at the hotel construction project being worth more than $100,000+ million. Should that ever come to fruition, some notable amenities were mentioned:

  • 14,000 square-foot convention center; holding 800 people
  • Two restaurants, including one on the rooftop
  • Coffee shop
  • Spa
  • Fitness center

The Inn at Fox Chase is going to serve a purpose for the Bensalem casino. It’s a 167-room hotel with similar features:

  • Outdoor pool
  • Fitness center
  • 2,000+ square feet in meeting space
  • Restaurant

It’s expected the rebrand will take 6-12 months to complete as the hotel will remain open, and employees are welcome to transition as Parx employees.

How skill games impacted Parx’s hotel plans

Pace-O-Matic, a Georgia-based skill games manufacturer, came out last week and said that its game are “no competition” to the Pennsylvania casinos. While the casino industry does quite well, producing $521 million in total gambling revenue in May, it’s plausible that skill games still impact earnings.

Parx CEO, Eric Hausler, presented evidence of skill games cutting into casino profits in May, and used data to support his claim. States such as Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Jersey have increased slot revenue, on average, by 21% since 2018 (excluding 2020 numbers). Skill games are banned in those states.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, improved by only 4%, despite the addition of five new casinos since 2020.

Virginia is another case study in which slot revenue increased 11% per day from December to March, when the state banned the machines. During a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting last month, Rivers Casino’s location in Portsmouth, VA, increased slot revenue 39.2% in March from October.

“In Pennsylvania, an 11% increase in slot win per day would translate to more than $150 million of additional tax revenue to the Commonwealth per year at our 54% tax rate,” he told the committee.

The other side of the equation is that POM is seeking regulation as the games help small businesses. In February, Hausler even soften his stance on an outright ban of the games.

“A rigorous regulatory and tax structure for skill games should remedy many of these concerns and put sensible limits on the location of these games,” Hausler told PlayPennsylvania in February.

There’s so much to sort out in regards to skill games.

It’s possible that the Supreme Court bans them entirely, which would be surprising result after the Commonwealth Court ruled the machines as legal last December.

With millions upon millions of dollars up in the air because of the skill games decision, it’s easy to see why Parx put construction plans on hold.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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