An unusual request from Harrah’s
It’s not every day that a casino will request to remove hundreds of slot machines, but that’s exactly what Harrah’s Philadelphia did last week. Following the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s (PGCB) approval, the Delaware County racetrack-casino owned by Caesars Entertainment has now lost 563 of its machines.
significant oversupply and underutilization”
Harrah’s made the unusual request in a presentation to the PGCB last week. The casino argued that the removal would create “a more comfortable gaming environment” for guests without impacting the property’s revenue. It also noted “significant oversupply and underutilization” of the facility’s existing machines.
The machine removal has lowered Harrah’s slot count from 2,263 to 1,700. According to Caesars, the casino removed only the oldest and least profitable terminals. Of the slots lost, 338 were from the smoking section. This area still houses the majority of Harrah’s remaining machines, at nearly 52%.
The winning argument
In its presentation to the PGCB last week, Harrah’s said it based its slot machine data on the 12-month period before the COVID-19 pandemic began. During the busiest month of that year in March, the operator said that 850 slot machines remained unused on its gaming floor. This represented around 37% of the available terminals.
Even with the removal of 563 terminals, Harrah’s said there will still be an excess of around 287 machines in the busiest periods. In fact, Chris Albrecht, senior vice president and general manager of the casino, explained how the 1,700 available slots would actually represent an increase of sorts. Only about 1,300 machines had been in use throughout the pandemic because of restrictions.
Albrecht also noted that the casino’s slot revenue has fallen significantly over recent years despite the high number of terminals. The casino’s May slot revenue totaled $31.3m in 2008 but stood at just $12.6m for the same period this year. This is due, in part, to an increase in competition in the area, with southeastern Pennsylvania now home to four other casinos.
According to the Harrah’s executive, the reduction in machines will benefit the Pennsylvania casino in a number of ways. He argued that staff would save time in slot maintenance and collecting funds from the machines. Despite this, Albrecht affirmed that the company would not reduce staff.
Harrah’s investment across the US
Despite the drop in slot revenue over recent years, Caesars has continued to invest in Harrah’s Philadelphia. Recent expenditures include a $1.3m re-carpeting of the gaming floor in 2017, along with a $1m addition of new slot chairs in 2018. Meanwhile, the gambling giant has committed to similar Harrah’s investment plans outside of Pennsylvania.
new interior design elements, enhancements to gaming floors, and new dining options
In April of this year, Caesars provided the details of a $400m investment in Atlantic City which will include its Harrah’s Resort in the New Jersey gambling hub. The remodeling includes new interior design elements, enhancements to gaming floors, and new dining options. These developments will take place over the next three years.
More recently, Harrah’s Las Vegas unveiled the results of its own $200m renovation in June. The hotel-casino now features additional guest rooms, new LED marquees on its entrances, and a completely remodeled casino floor.