More gaming. More food. More entertainment.
By Samantha Bambino
Parx Casino in Bensalem celebrated 10 years of gaming in December. CEO Tony Ricci promises the next 10 will be even better. Ricci announced on May 3 a $50 million and 45,000 square-foot expansion plan for the casino, which will include upscale food, live entertainment, more gaming options and, most importantly, community growth.
The last 10 years involved the creation of the successful casino seen today. During this time, Parx created more than 2,000 jobs and, according to Carrie Nork Minelli, director of advertising and public relations at Parx Casino, the vast majority of those employed were local. Minelli also saw monetary growth in Parx’s contribution to the township.
“Through our gaming taxes, local taxes and state payroll and income taxes, we have contributed approximately $250 million per year over the last several years,” she said. “Included within this annual figure, Bensalem has collected more than $20 million per year in local share gaming taxes and real estate taxes.”
In addition to thousands of employees, Parx welcomed a new luxury lounge, Xlounge, 700 slot machines, live dealer table games and roulette.
According to Ricci, phase one was just an expansion of the facility. Phase two, slated for completion this winter, will expand into the non-gaming world, appealing to those who look for other forms of entertainment in addition to gambling.
The highlight of the project will be the multipurpose live entertainment venue, the Xcite Center, that will host top-name acts.
“You shouldn’t have to drive one and a half hours (to Atlantic City) to experience it,” Ricci said.
Guests can enjoy musicals, comedies and MMA fights. Seating for more than 1,500 guests will be reconfigured for each type of event to create the best experience possible.
After seeing a show at the Xcite Center, guests can dine at two new restaurants. Lombardi’s, America’s first pizzeria from the streets of Little Italy in Manhattan, will be the first pizzeria on the Parx property and second Lombardi’s location in the country.
The second new eatery will be Liberty Bell Gastropub, which will provide guests with locally sourced menu items incorporating grass-fed Pennsylvania beef, Pennsylvania premium reserve pork, free range chicken, locally grown produce, and Pennsylvania cave and aged cheeses. There will also be a rotisserie bar where guests can experience an array of slow-roasted meats, and a live performance area for entertainment.
The final piece of the expansion will be a new spot for Parx Poker inside the main casino building. The space will feature two high-definition TVs and a VIP poker area.
While casino-goers are excited for these new opportunities, Bensalem Township and its neighboring communities are looking forward to it even more.
“Since the opening of the casino, Parx has been an excellent community partner and has worked with the township,” said John Chaykowski, finance manager of Bensalem Township. “The expansion of Parx will bring in additional businesses within the casino, which in turn will generate additional revenue for the township’s business privilege tax collection.”
According to Chaykowski, this strong partnership is evident in various actions Parx has taken with the community in mind. In 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the $10 million hosting fees casinos are required to pay to their hosting communities as unconstitutional. Though this meant the casinos were no longer required to pay this money, Parx signed an agreement with both the township and county to continue paying the fee until there is an agreement on the new law.
Parx Casino actively participates in the annual Bucks County Tour of Honor by hosting an evening of entertainment for local veterans and their families, is an active partner with the Bensalem Heritage Foundation and its work on the rehabilitation of the historic Bensalem AME Church, and participates in a scholarship program for high school seniors. ••