Wind Creek Bethlehem is the latest casino in Pennsylvania to gain state approval to reduce the number of slot machines on its gambling hall as part of adapting to the post-COVID era.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday granted the major casino’s request to reduce its number of licensed machines from 2,973 to 2,318. The net reduction of 655 includes the removal of 983 existing machines and the addition of 328 new ones, in order to update the global add-on with more styles and brands popular with customers.
Such large-scale changes to the playing field must be approved by the PGCB, given the revenue stake the Commonwealth has in the performance of the 16 casinos due to its 54% tax rate on machines. slot. While the 2004 law that created the casinos gives those like Wind Creek the right to have up to 5,000 machines, none have actually approached the maximum due to the economic laws of supply and demand. request.
When forced to reduce the number of machines for social distancing purposes during COVID restrictions, many casinos across the state realized they could generate so much revenue with the smallest volume. Several of Wind Creek’s counterparts have already been given permission to downsize, and Wind Creek officials, like the others, told the gaming board they could do so without expecting to lose revenue. .
Rebecca Gorgas, director of gaming operations for Wind Creek, told the board that less than half of today’s machines are typically in play at any given time, and only around 70% are in use when the casino is busiest. . Reconfiguring the game room with more space between machines, “with less physical congestion and clutter,” will give patrons an increased sense of comfort and security, she said.
“Nobody on a plane really wants to sit in the middle seat. It’s the same theory we follow,” she said of a renovation process, which is expected to take place over the next few years. next 10 months.
Casino and two other licensees fined
The Gambling Commission issued three fines on Wednesday, for relatively small amounts by its standards, to a casino, a casino food and beverage licensee and a supplier of unrelated machines and kiosks. gambling in casinos. They were:
- Live! Pittsburgh, Westmoreland County, was fined $7,500 for providing a cash advance to a self-excluded problem gambler who gained access to the casino and cashed a check. The individual was able to play blackjack and slot machines in violation of his own registration on the state’s self-exclusion list, and a cashier failed to verify whether he was a self-excluded gambler when manipulation of his check and driver’s license.
- Chickie’s & Pete’s restaurant at Parx Casino in Bucks County was fined $17,500 for several instances of abusing customers, who became visibly intoxicated.
- TDN Money Systems Inc. was fined $7,500 for failing to promptly report a change in ownership to the board.
Six other adults let their children play
The recurring problem of players leaving minors unsupervised in order to frequent casinos returned on Wednesday, as the council added six people to the involuntary exclusion list which prevents them from entering state gambling halls in the future.
The incidents occurred at several different casinos involving children of varying ages left for different periods of time in cars or hotel rooms. No harm has been reported to the children and no date has been given as to when the incidents occurred.
The gaming board has made the need to limit such incidents a recurring theme when casino officials appear before it on various issues, such as before voting Wednesday to renew the five-year license of Hollywood Casino at the Meadows, which has been praised for its increased signage. tackle the problem. The fact that such cases involving neglectful parents still arise seems to remain shocking to council members.
“It makes no sense to me, why some of these people don’t understand [criminally] charged,” board member Sean Logan said after discussing one of the six new cases.
The council can bar violators from casinos, but it is up to state or local police at the scene whether or not to charge individuals with an offense such as child endangerment.