Parx Gets Pennsylvania License for Mini-Casino Ahead of Scheduled November Opening in Shippensburg

  • Parx will build the mini-casino on the former Lowe’s store site in a $65m renovation
  • The Shippensburg venue will launch with electronic table games, 500 slot machines
  • The operator intends to apply for a sports betting license for the casino in the future
  • Parx’s $8.11m bid won an auction for a gaming license for Cumberland County in 2018
  • The firm can apply to operate up to 30 table games for an additional fee of $2.5m
Pennsylvania welcome you sign
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has awarded Parx Casino Shippensburg a license, and building begins February with plans to open in November. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A reinvented home supply store

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has awarded Parx Casino’s holding company a license to open a mini-casino in Shippensburg Township, Cumberland County.

Parx expects to open the satellite gaming venue in November

The PGCB issued a license to the Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment sub-brand on Wednesday. Parx expects to open the satellite gaming venue in November this year.

In a $65m renovation starting February, Parx will build the 73,000-square-foot casino on the site of the shuttered Lowe’s Home Supply store in the Shippen Towne Center. Occupying around half the area of the former store, Parx Shippensburg will have the same look and feel as the gaming brand’s flat-top flagship casino in Bensalem.

Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Andrew Maykuth shared an artist’s rendering of the planned Parx Casino Shippensburg via Twitter:

According to a PGCB news release, the mini-casino will open with electronic table games, 500 slot machines, a restaurant, and a sports bar. The Bensalem-based firm also intends to apply for a sports betting license for the Shippensburg venue.

A circuitous road

Representing a long-fought victory for Greenwood, the Shippensburg Parx is now the fourth of five state-licensed mini-casinos, although only three are currently in operation. The firm’s $8.11m bid won an auction for a Category Four gaming license for Cumberland County in 2018, but residents of Carlisle rebuffed its plans to build a casino in their borough, while South Middleton Township citizens also shut the door.

Mini-casinos, officially called Category Four casinos, are unique to Pennsylvania. The state legislature and Governor Tom Wolf gave the thumbs up to the concept in 2017 as part of a budget agreement.

Eventually in May, township supervisors in Shippensburg — one of the few municipalities in Cumberland County open to casino development — voted in support of the casino project. That same month, however, a pastor drew applause from around 100 people gathered in opposition to the Parx project when he said: “We don’t want you here.”

Not only was a man of God against Parx touching down in Shippensburg, but nature too, with the mini-casino’s first choice of location at Exit 29 on 1-81 scrapped because of sinkholes. The firm finally settled on the Lowe’s location because of its large-scale retail readiness, parking, and road access.

Room to expand

In its Wednesday press release, the PGCB said the license granted Parx allows it to operate between 300 and 750 slot machines. Parx can also petition for “permission to initially operate up to 30 table games for an additional fee of $2.5 million with the capability of adding an additional ten tables games after its first year of operation,” the PGCB stated.

$1.8m in local gaming tax revenue per year

The non-smoking Parx Casino Shippensburg expects to create 175 construction jobs and employ over 125 permanent staff. Parx has affirmed that it will generate $1.8m in local gaming tax revenue per year.

Greenwood’s chief operating officer John Dixon reportedly told the PGCB during a hearing in Harrisburg that Parx had not yet reached a decision on how to develop the other half of the Lowe’s store. “There will be something else coming there down the road,” Dixon said.