South Philly casino

Philadelphia Likely To Get Another Casino Whether It Wants One Or Not

A South Philadelphia casino received a gaming license way back in 2014. But that casino still hasn’t seen ground broken at the end of 2016.

That’s because the license handed out more than two years ago is still held up in the courts.

The Philly casino and the court case

Philly.com detailed the travails of the joint project between Parx Casino and the interests behind Maryland Live! The casino would be built in the stadium district of Philadelphia, if it ever gets the go-ahead.

The planned casino is being held up by the owners of SugarHouse Casino — which doesn’t want more competition — and Market East Associates — which failed in its bid to get a license.

Despite the ongoing legal wrangling, the casino is likely to be built eventually, barring unforeseen circumstances:

Losing bidders or aggrieved competitors have contested every Pennsylvania casino license award except for the six licenses attached to horse-racing venues. All have eventually made it through the legal gauntlet.

A story recently came out with details about what the casino will pay its workers.

So Philly is probably getting a casino. So what will it look like?

A closer look at the Philly casino

Here’s a brief rundown of the details of the project.

  • Where: In the stadium district, where all of the city’s professional sports teams play
  • Cost: $400 million (estimated)
  • Gaming: 2,000 slot machines. 125 table games (includes 33 poker tables)
  • Hotel: 220 rooms

Does Pennsylvania or Philly need another casino?

So, given the fact that the casino is more likely to be built eventually than not, what does that mean for the gaming landscape in Pennsylvania? There are lots of moving parts:

Whether they are in Philadelphia proper or not, Philly already has three casinos:

  • Sugarhouse (Fishtown in Philadelphia)
  • Parx (Bensalem)
  • Harrah’s (Chester)

It’s not at all clear that a fourth casino in the region won’t simply cannibalize revenue generated by the other three. Parx is the leader in the state for gaming revenue, while SugarHouse has made massive gains in 2016. Harrah’s, meanwhile, has lost marketshare of late.

Another casino in a new part of Philly could be good — particularly near the stadiums and capturing sports fans before and after games. However, that revenue will not be entirely additive; it will siphon some amount of traffic from the existing casinos.

Despite a record year in 2015, there are also signs that the PA land-based casino market as a whole is reaching its ceiling before getting a new casino. (At least the state doesn’t have to worry about new competition in North Jersey for now.)

However, it appears a new casino is coming whether it’s a great idea or not. How much of an impact it could have on PA’s existing casinos will have to wait to be seen.