A new mini casino is now open in Shippensburg. Parx Casino held their ribbon-cutting on February 3, becoming the 17th retail casino in Pennsylvania. The new location is Parx’s second PA casino.

Parx Shippensburg boasts 73,000 square feet of gaming space with 500 slot machines, 48 electronic table games, a sportsbook and a 100-seat restaurant with a full bar.

The new casino opens in a part of the state that already has two Hollywood casinos an hour away. It comes with the reputation of Parx’s primary property in Bensalem, but will need to hit the ground running in a competitive market nonetheless.

Shippensburg manager believes Parx will stand out

Through the years, Parx Casino has established itself as a top operator in the state, holding their own among household industry names like Harrah’s, Hollywood and Live! Casinos.

In an interview with PlayPennsylvania, General Manager Kevin Brady cited several reasons for their success.

“We have great fundamentals, great training, great culture and great ownership and we brought that to Shippensburg. We firmly believe as an organization that our employees make the difference between us and our competition.”

Another difference between Parx and the competition is Parx Shippensburg will be smoke-free throughout the interior of the property. In Bensalem, Parx ownership opted to keep a no-smoking policy in place after COVID-related mask mandates ended in June 2021. The move was welcomed by employees, customers and even some smokers according to Parx Chief Marketing Officer Marc Oppenheimer.

He told PlayPennsylvania:

“We’ve seen two things from it. No. 1, it has not hurt us business and revenue wise at all and No. 2, our employees are very, very happy to not be working in an environment with secondhand smoke all the time.”

Parx is confident in Shippensburg location

Both Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Hollywood Casino York sit roughly an hour’s drive from Parx Shippensburg. So far, the market in the area has supported the two well.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle metropolitan area has 600,000 residents, and York County has another 450,000, creating large enough markets for the operating casinos.

According to Oppenheimer, roughly 500,000 people live within a 25- to 30-mile radius of Parx Shippensburg. That only cuts into half the distance between it and either Hollywood property.

Still, Oppenheimer expects their customer base to include patrons of the Hollywood casinos. Acknowledging this, Parx is offering a tier match program for loyalty members of other casinos. Mychoice or other rewards card holders will have their Parx loyalty card elevated to the equivalent level.

“If someone comes in and brings us a high tier card from any of the other players, we’ll match them into that tier with us,” Oppenheimer said.

In addition, Oppenheimer sites the existing building’s infrastructure, ample parking and easy access from I-81 as contributing factors that set the Shippensburg location up for success.

“All of the different factors came together that told us this location makes a lot of sense,” he said.

Will another mini casino put a dent in Hollywood’s revenue?

Even though all three casinos can conceivably exist, Parx Shippensburg will still challenge the two Hollywood casino properties to maintain their recent growth.

Since opening in August 2021, Hollywood York has steadily increased its slot revenue from around $5 million monthly to well over $6 million while making an additional $1.2 to $1.6 million each month from table games. But some of that mini-casino’s success seemingly cut into Hollywood Penn National’s bottom line, though the size of the revenue pie is growing.

Penn National had monthly revenue figures of around $16 million from slots and $3 million from table games before the pandemic. After the York property opened, those numbers dropped to about $13 million and $2 million, respectively. Obviously, plenty of other factors could have contributed to those dips as well.

The new Parx is the smallest of the three in terms of square footage and number of slots. It also lacks live table games for the time being. Only time will tell what effect Parx will have on the nearby casinos’ revenues.

Lead photo by Corey Sharp.