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Valley Forge Casino Resort to begin sportsbook construction, set to open this year

January 29, 2019

Source, Philadelphia Business Journal, Kenneth Hilario

Sports betting in Montgomery County is only a few months away. Valley Forge Casino Resort this year will debut its sportsbook, joining the Philadelphia area’s three other casinos in offering sports betting as competition rises.

Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pa., over the past year spent $40 million in capital investments, including 250 new slot machines added during the renovation and redesign of the gaming floor.

Following the renovation of the Grand Ballroom, the 50,000-square-foot Event Center also got an upgrade with new floors, ceilings and restrooms, among others.

The casino’s next major endeavor will be the construction and opening of a sportsbook venue to bring sports betting to the area.

Construction will begin on Monday, Jan. 28, and the sportsbook is scheduled to open in mid-March. Additional details, including the cost of the sportsbook, were not disclosed.

Las Vegas-based casino owner and operator Boyd Gaming Corp. late last year bought Valley Forge Casino Resort in a $280.5 million deal and as part of the acquisition, Boyd CEO Keith Smith said the company would “closely examine the opportunity” to offer online gaming and sports wagering with its partnership with FanDuel Group.

“We see attractive growth potential at Valley Forge,” Smith said.

Valley Forge Casino Resort’s main competitors are the three Philadelphia-area casinos: SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown, Parx Casino in Bucks County and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Delaware County.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban against sports betting last year, and SugarHouse, Parx and Harrah’s have since debuted their own sportsbooks.

SugarHouse in December was the first Philadelphia-area casino to begin accepting official bets, with a permanent facility scheduled to open this year.

Parx followed earlier this month, also in a temporary sportsbook until a permanent facility opens this year as part of a $10 million expansion plan.

Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack is the most recent area casino to accept sports bets. On Thursday, it opened The Book.

The Valley Forge Casino Resort sportsbook would be one of two sites to bet on sports in Montgomery County. Parx Casino’s parent company Greenwood Racing Inc. will renovate and retrofit the Valley Forge Turf Club in Oaks to offer sports betting.

An opening date has not yet been announced for the Montgomery County Turf Club, but Greenwood began accepting sports bets at the Turf Club in South Philadelphia.

Now with sports betting in the mix, the stakes are higher in what was already a competitive gaming landscape with neighboring jurisdictions like Atlantic City adding sports betting, including Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and its $11 million project.

“To stay competitive, reinvestment in our amenities is critical,” David Strow, spokesman for Boyd Gaming, told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“With the recent expansion of our casino offerings and the addition of a sportsbook, we are demonstrating our commitment to offer guests a compelling and competitive gaming experience,” Strow said, “and giving customers more reasons than ever to pick Valley Forge over the competition.”

Sports betting, though relatively nascent, has been a windfall for casinos and states that have begun offer them.

Pennsylvania in December had $2 million in revenue from sports betting, generating $722,356 in state tax revenue, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, based on figures from Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County, SugarHouse Casino and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

In New Jersey, sports betting generated $94 million from June 14, 2018 through December, according to the N.J. Division of Gaming Enforcement.

“Many states are considering it, but only a few have introduced legislation so far,” Boyd Gaming’s Strow said. “We have more than 40 years of experience with sports betting, and we look forward to working with our partners at FanDuel to put that experience to work in new states when the opportunity presents itself.”

Boyd Gaming operates in 10 states with 29 gaming properties, including casinos in Las Vegas; Nevada legalized sports betting in 1949. Boyd’s Las Vegas casinos include The Orleans Hotel & Casino and Fremont Hotel & Casino, both of which offer sports betting.

Valley Forge Casino Resort in 2018 saw a 10.5 percent year-over-year increase to $129.5 million in total gaming revenue, making one of three area casinos to see increases.

“This was primarily the result of the elimination of the access fee in 2018,” Strow said. “Once customers no longer have to pay to enter the casino, they visit more often.”

Strow said Valley Forge’s “key advantage” is its complete resort experience — 450-room hotel, the spa, meeting and convention space and its event center, which was recently renovated.

“Event centers and meeting facilities have become an important amenity for many of our properties across the country. The direct revenues generated from meeting space are certainly important, but the real impact to our business is the additional customer traffic that these facilities generate at our properties,” Strow said.

Event centers are like sportsbooks, he said, since they serve as another way to get customers through the door.

“Once in the building, many of these customers will spend in other areas of our business, including restaurants, hotel rooms and casino gaming,” Strow said.