Penn National Wants to Cut Back on Its Slots in Pennsylvania

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Penn National is the latest gaming company with a request to reduce its slot machines in Pennsylvania after Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mount Airy.

Penn National Wants to Downsize Slot Complement by 500

Penn National says it wants to get rid of 500 slot machines at two of its Pennsylvania casinos. The company, which opened its mini-casino, Hollywood Casino York, on August 12, filed applications this month with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to remove 317 slot machines from Meadows Racetrack & Casino and 191 from Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County.

According to the company, the reduction would free up space for a new retail Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino. Meadows and Hollywood casinos would benefit from a more comfortable free space environment and social distancing will be easier with the removal of hundreds of slot machines.

Penn National stated that the applications for reductions are not related to the new casinos’ openings. The company plans to open another satellite casino in Berks County this year.

During the reduced operations from the COVID-19 restrictions, Penn National realized that the casino’s slot capacity is more than enough. In June, the company had 1,927 operational slots at the Hollywood casino. Now it wants to remove 191 to have 1,736.

Fewer Slot Machines Equals Similar Revenue

At Meadows, it returned to its usual number of2,273 slotsin May, compared to 1,697 during the COVD-19 restrictions. However, its average slot revenue was $13.1 million in June, only slightly above the earnings from fewer machines in March and April. Now it wants to have 2,323 machines at Meadows, which is a decrease of 317.

Pennsylvania casinos have never had their fully allowed complement of slot machines. Before the pandemic, they collectively had a little over 25,000. The number was reduced, due to social distancing, to 10,000 in 2020. For months, the slot machines stayed in storage.

Now, as they are allowed to go back to normal, the revenues are not much different. Penn’s casinos will not reduce staff but would reduce slot machines and free up space.

Harrah’s Philadelphia and Mount Airy Also Want Reductions

Harrah’s Philadelphia received state approval to reduce 573 slot machines two months ago. The gaming board also received another application from Mount Airy Casino Resort which is currently pending. It wants to reduce its slots volume by 132, or from 1,819 to 1,687.  Mount Airy Casino reopened on June 22 under strict health protocols. Harrah’s Philadelphia gave similar reasons to Penn National’s for its request to reduce slot machines.

According to state regulations, the PGCB needs to review and take action on slots reduction requests of more than 2%. After all, the state has a shared interest in maximizing gaming, as it benefits 54% of tax revenue from slots. Most of the gaming tax revenue is generated from the machines, as they brought the state $2.4 billion annually before COVID.

Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the state gaming board, said that he is not sure when the board will act on the requests made by Mount Airy and Penn National. Currently, there are no other slot reduction requests from other casinos in Pennsylvania.

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