“It expands our appeal and our reach well beyond just the gaming community, to those who look to other forms of entertainment,” Ricci told local press. “It really expands our presence in the region.”
The project is the second phase of a larger expansion and renovation plan. The company first announced the plan in 2016. This phase is still in the developmental stages, with full plans not expected until November.
The first phase focused on increasing the company’s gaming options. As part of that undertaking, Parx added hundreds of slot machines to the casino floor. This expansion project has helped push Parx past rival Sands Bethlehem Casino in terms of overall gaming revenue.
A preview of the Parx Casino expansion project
Phase Two has a different motive and is the more ambitious undertaking.
The newly announced project will mostly add to Parx’s non-gaming appeal, with new dining and entertainment options, including a 1,500-seat theater.
Nothing is set in stone. But Parx executives provided some specifics at a recent press conference.
Tentative plans include:
- A 30,000-square-foot arena dubbed the Xcite Center. Xcite Center is a 1,500-seat theater capable of hosting musical acts, comedy shows, and sporting events.
- Two new restaurants: Lombardi’s and the Liberty Bell Gastropub.
- A new and improved poker room. “We’re creating one of the most beautiful poker rooms you’ll see,” Ricci said. “It’s equivalent to what you’ll see in Vegas. We want to have the best poker room on the East Coast.”
According to Parx, the project will add 200 jobs, increasing the total number of employees at Parx Casino by 10 percent.
An ulterior motive for the announcement?
With the project still in the planning stages and full details not expected until November, the timing of the announcement is certainly suspect.
Parx decided to announce the new capital investment project at a time when the Pennsylvania Legislature is considering a number of significant gaming reforms and expansions. Parx vehemently opposes many of these proposals.
At a hearing in March, Parx submitted testimony that intimated casino reinvestment projects, such as its $50 million push, would be in jeopardy should certain proposals come to pass.
“It is clear that the net effect of these proposals will be a reduction in gaming taxes for the Commonwealth, along with thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of investment dollars by the brick and mortar operators,” stated Parx’s testimony.
Parx didn’t invent the enlargement project out of whole cloth. But its decision to pre-announce the $50 million investment and 200 new jobs might have something to do with the larger gaming picture in Pennsylvania.