Returning patrons at Harrah’s Philadelphia will find a rearranged casino floor that features 563 fewer slot machines at the Caesars Entertainment property.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved Harrah’s Philadelphia to remove the number of slot machines. Caesars told the state gaming agency that the decision was because of “a significant oversupply and underutilization” of the existing terminals.
With PGCB approval, the slot count at Harrah’s was reduced from 2,263 positions to 1,700. Caesars says with fewer slot machines, its gaming floor is more comfortable for guests. Harrah’s added that it does not expect any revenue loss from the reduction. The state collects 54 percent of each casino’s slot win.
The casino removed the oldest and least profitable terminals. The average age of its slot machines is 10.3 years, Caesars explained.
Of the 563 slots removed, 338 were from the smoking section. The smoking section still has the majority of the property’s slots. This is nearly 52 percent of the 1,700 allotments.
Ongoing Casino Expansion
Harrah’s Philadelphia opened the first in the Philly metro slots casino in January of 2007. At that time, demand warranted the gaming floor housing almost 3,000 machines.
But over the last decade, gaming has drastically grown in Pennslyvania. The state has seen numerous new land-based casinos, the inclusion of table games, iGaming, satellite casinos, and video gaming terminals at truck stops. This growth means that large gaming venues, like Harrah’s Philadelphia, are unnecessary.
Parx Casino opened in December of 2009, Rivers Casino Philadelphia in September of 2010, Valley Forge Casino Resort in March of 2012, and Live! Philadelphia earlier this year.
Caesars told the PGCB that its gross gaming revenue (GGR) has declined in each fiscal year since 2008. It’s tumbled from $332.8 million to $196.2 million in 2019.
Despite the ever-increasing competition and long GGR slide, Harrah’s Philadelphia says it remains bullish on its Philadelphia investment. It spent $1.3 million to re-carpet the entire gaming floor in 2017, and another $1 million on new slot chairs in 2018.
Lots of Slots Left
In its petition to remove slots, Harrah’s said that based on data from the 12-month pre-COVID-19 period, the casino’s highest occupancy was experienced on March 2 at 9 pm. Around that time, the gaming space was 62.5 percent occupied, and there were still 850 available slot machines. With the reductions, there would still be an excess capacity of 287 slot units.
Requesting fewer slot machines is rare, the PGCB said, but the actions by Harrah’s certainly isn’t a first in the US gaming industry.
In 2019, Resorts World Catskills and Tioga Downs, both in upstate New York, gained approval from the New York Gaming Commission to reduce their slot machine complement. The two casinos collectively removed 600 slot machines from their floors, with the vast majority — 550 — at Resorts World.
RW said the slot subtraction will “provide a much better experience, with more room on the floor” for guests. Tioga Downs used its new space for part of its sportsbook.