Eastern Pennsylvania Casinos Are Raking It In at the Tables

shutterstock_casino-chips-940x540

While there’s been a good deal of doom and gloom about the gaming industry around these parts in the last month, here’s some evidence that not all area gaming establishments are rolling snake eyes. The Morning Call reports on new data released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board that says the state’s 12 casinos took in $731.8 million at table games in the most recent fiscal year, up 2.6 percent over the previous:

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Harrah’s Slams Idea of Second Casino for Philadelphia

While there are many in the city of Philadelphia who believe the city could use a second casino — a worker at a pizza shop I frequent said SugarHouse is “probably the smartest thing the city’s ever done” the other day — others say the city doesn’t even need one casino and certainly not a second. Hmm, who to trust? Hey, how about a racetrack casino in Chester!

Harrah’s Chester has come out in opposition to a second casino in the city. One can make the obvious inference that, well, a new casino would take away from their business at Harrah’s Philadelphia (which, like the Philadelphia Union soccer team, is in Chester). To be fair: While Harrah’s was involved in 2010 in a partnership to build and open the stalled Foxwoods casino, it didn’t bid in 2012 when the process was reopened.

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High-End Shore Market Unlikely to Be Hurt By Casino Closures

margate home

Photo of 514 N. Thurlow Avenue in Margate, a home for sale for $8.5 million. Copyright SJSRMLS.

The legalization of gambling across the Northeast has hit Atlantic City hard: The latest victim, Trump Entertainment Resorts confirmed this weekend, is Trump Plaza, which is scheduled to close on September 16.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Real estate experts we contacted said that while the rental market may be hit hard by the job losses — particularly in nearby inland towns like Pleasantville — the closures are much less likely to have a significant impact on the higher income ownership market in towns like Ventnor and Margate.

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Soon-to-Be-Shuttered Showboat Could Be Sold as a Casino

Caesars Entertainment Corporation, owners of the Showboat Atlantic City casino that is slated to close August 31st, has said it is open to selling the property as a casino rather than closing it down.

Caesars spokesperson Gary Thompson said the company has received “preliminary inquiries” about selling the property to a new owner, who’d keep it open as a casino. Showboat opened on the boardwalk in Atlantic City in March 1987.

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Will Revel Be a Monument to Atlantic City’s Broken Dreams?

Photo | Jen A. Miller

Photo | Jen A. Miller

On Thursday morning last week, I stepped onto the escalator from Revel’s lobby to head down to the Boardwalk. It was windy. I could tell not just because I could see dune grass blowing in the breeze, but because I could feel it — inside the building. The wind hit me in the face, and shook the sculptures hanging from the ceiling, which I had been told on my pre-opening tour of Revel weighed as much as a car — each.

That afternoon, Revel would file for bankruptcy for the second time since opening in 2012, attaching to it a threat to shut down by August 18th if it did not find a buyer. If that does happen, it’ll join Showboat, which will close in August, and the Atlantic Club, which closed in January  as boardwalk gambling ghosts.

A lot of things went wrong with Revel, mostly that it was a casino conceived at the peak of Atlantic City’s gambling monopoly, and opened near the bottom. It came onto the market with far too much debt, and took an even greater risk in trying to place itself above the typical Atlantic City gambler by limiting the number of slot machines and banning smoking. Now, the $2.4 billion casino is on the verge of closing, taking a $260 million investment from the state of New Jersey with it. Read more »

Will Philadelphia Get Its Own Space Needle?

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PHL Local Gaming — one of the five contenders for that ever elusive casino license in Philadelphia — has announced a potential new feature for its LoSo Entertainment Center: a 615-foot-tall Skyspire with rooftop restaurant and observation deck, both of which would be reached by gondola. The tower would be designed to look much like Seattle’s Space Needle, though it would be 10 feet taller (take that, Seattle!).

The Skyspire wouldn’t be unique to Philadelphia. It’s made by U.S. Thrill Rides, which creates rides and attractions for places like Six Flags and MGM Grand. Michael Kitchen, president of U.S. Thrill Rides, has this to say about the company’s Skyspire:

“In addition to being a world-caliber amusement attraction and a stunning piece of architecture, the Skyspire also constitutes a ‘wow factor with class’ that appeals to the very young, to seniors and all other adult demographics.”

Here are more images of the Skyspire:

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You Can’t Be For Casinos and Against Pawn Shops

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

I find it fascinating that members of City Council right now want to put yet another zoning overlay in the city to prohibit new pawn and check cashing joints in Center City. The rationale is basically that pawn shops and check cashing joints shouldn’t be near casinos because … well, because.

Here in Philly, we’ve established that we are OK with the casino business model for two reasons: Individual freedom of people to gamble and for the fringe economic benefits of tourism. Still, our decisions have consequences.

One of these consequences is people pawning their shit to play chemin-de-fer.

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