More bad news for Harrah's in Chester

While our state legislators continue to spin their wheels trying to figure out how they are actually going to pay for the $32 billion budget that just became law, here's one to keep an eye on - with some fairly ominous possibilities for Delaware County.

One of the solutions being bandied about in Harrisburg - as it seemingly always is - is a major expansion in legalized gambling in the state. Among the venues being considered is online and sports fantasy gambling, as well as putting video gaming terminals in local taverns.

As you might expect, the state's casinos are not big fans of this idea.

That includes Harrah's down on the Chester waterfront.

And for good reason.

Harrah's continues to struggle. While total revenue from gaming in the state continues to rise, it's actually down at Harrah's. Table games revenue was up 3.25 percent for the 12 months ending June 30, but at Harrah's table games play was down, from $67.8 million for 2015-16 to $65.6 million this past 12 months.

Slots revenue was down - both statewide and also at Harrah's, off 2.2 percent statewide, while Harrah's take dipped from $215.1 million to $200.4 million.

So you can imagine the folks at Harrah's are not exactly doing cartwheels about the possibility of putting all those competing video gaming terminals at local bars and taverns, patrons who might otherwise be coming through the doors at Harrah's.

And that says nothing of one of the biggest competitors that looms in Harrah's future. If they ever get that casino up and running at the South Philly sports complex, that also will cut into Harrah's business, effectively providing another outlet just 15 minutes up I-95.

Both Harrah's and county officials lobbied hard against granting that license for the South Philly site.

Harrah's produces a huge chunk of revenue for the county and basically is the lifeblood of the Chester city budget, all part of the host agreement put in place when the state ushered in this new era of casinos and legal gaming.

Give credit to Harrah's, when the state Supreme Court knocked down those host agreements as being unconstitutional, they continue their payments to both the county and city.

It might be time for our politicos to return the favor.


Stefan Roots said…
What's up with those host agreements? Is that decision part of the State budget stuff or have they forgot they have to come up with a new casino host agreement?