Summary: Despite reaping the benefits of the 2017 gambling bill passed in Pennsylvania, Parx Casino CEO Anthony Ricci spent time during the recent state Gaming Control Board meeting blasting the expansion law.
Sounding Off at Gaming Control Board
Late last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board held a meeting where the license renewal of the Parx Casino was being considered. Anthony Ricci, the CEO of the casino, was in attendance. During the meeting, Ricci spent a great deal of time blasting the bill that was approved in 2017, allowing for several expansions of the gambling industry in the state.
During the meeting, Ricci did discuss sports betting and pointed out that the casino is already seeing a positive return from the new option. The casino is excited to see new customers coming in to the venue and taking part in sports betting.
According to Ricci, consumers who would not normally come to the casino are coming now. Sports betting is attracting a different audience and the venue is planning on proceeding with creating a new permanent sportsbook to attract these players in, particularly during football season.
During his discussion of sports betting, Ricci then began to blast the gambling expansion package when asked about cannibalization that could occur with new sportsbook visitors. First, Ricci began to speak about online wagering. He said that online betting is a legitimate concern as one addictive behavior is being combine with another addictive behavior on a cell phone.
Ricci then began to discuss how online betting could hurt the land-based sportsbooks. He used JCPenney, a retail store, as an example. Ricci commented on how retail stores are facing online shopping competition, and many are going out of business because shoppers are going online. He feels that this same issue might occur with the Parx and other casinos once mobile gaming is live and fully functional in the state.
Complaining About Competitors
During the meeting, Ricci also complained about MGM Resorts and the Golden Nugget. When it comes to online gambling, the Gaming Control Board opened up the process to include qualified gaming entities that are not currently operating in the state due to licensing remaining. The Golden Nugget of New Jersey and MGM’s Borgata Casino both applied and were approved.
Ricci does not approve of the two casinos operating online in the state and said so during the meeting. He feels that the gaming companies do not have Pennsylvania’s best interests at heart. His concern is that the two companies are coming in and do not have a brick and mortar based investment. They have a server and will spend money marketing but at a low cost of entry when compared to other companies.
Ricci feels that venues will suffer even more once the satellite casinos are open. The smaller venues will give players options for gaming that might be closer than the existing casinos are. This could hurt traffic numbers and Ricci feels that the difference will be significant.
While Ricci feels that land-based gaming venues will suffer, if you look at New Jersey, it’s quite the opposite. The casinos in Atlantic City have seen growth thanks to online gaming. Both sectors have been profitable and New Jersey is currently thriving overall when considering their gambling market as a whole.
However, Ricci does not see it that way. He does not think the two areas can be compared. In New Jersey, Ricci says that 95% of residents are over 25 miles from a gaming venue. And that the problem is not an issue because nobody lives around Atlantic City.
The Board members listened to what Ricci had to say but it is unclear as to if the Parx executives words will have any weight with what happens next regarding the launch of iGaming.