Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on Pennsylvania’s 11th slot-machine casino, set to open next month at a convention center just outside Valley Forge National Historical Park.
The sounds of drills, power lifts and hammers filled the air at the still-under-construction casino Tuesday, when the casino’s operators gave tours of the new facility. That cacophony, however, will soon give way to the cha-ching of coins and the whirr of slot machines when the casino fully opens for business on March 31 with 600 slots and 50 table games.
The scheduled opening comes as competition for gamblers is growing in the suburban Philadelphia market, which already has the Parx Casino in Bensalem, SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack in Chester. By law, Pennsylvania could one day be home to 14 casinos.
I am not surprised to learn that Atlantic City is taking a huge hit from all the recent casino development in surrounding states. Rising gas prices and a major recession are not helping things either.
Pennsylvania, under Fast Eddie, became a gambling state. Our casinos are spread out across the state, not all in one place. This seems to be a better strategy than New Jersey. 10 casinos are now operating in Pennsylvania. Atlantic City has 11.
I am sure Atlantic City depended on throngs of people from Pennsylvania coming there to gamble and spend money. Pennsylvania may very well pass Atlantic City as the number two gambling market in the U.S. in the years to come. Pennsylvania casino income is expected to grow to $2.7 billion dollars in 2011 while Atlantic City’s 2011 casino income is expected to fall to $3.09 billion dollars.
The last time I drove to Atlantic City, it was a ridiculously expensive trip. Bridge tolls, Atlantic City Expressway tolls, parking and gas made it a $50 trip before I set foot in a casino or shop. I went down for an afternoon to meet friends from high school who were staying at a casino. I will not be making that trip again.
Time will tell if Atlantic City can rebound or if Pennsylvania will unseat Atlantic City as the number two spot in the U.S. for gambling.