Boyd Gaming also acquired four casinos from Pinnacle Entertainment this week

PA Gets A New Potential Online Gambling Entrant, As Boyd Gaming Acquires Valley Forge Casino

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Boyd Gaming could be getting back into the online casino business.

The casino and resort company announced this week that it had acquired Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pa.

Coupled with the fact that Pennsylvania legalized online gambling earlier this year, it makes it appear likely Boyd will be joining the ranks of iGaming companies once again.

Boyd operated online gambling via its share of the Borgata in Atlantic City until it sold its 50 percent interest to MGM Resorts International.

Valley Forge at a glance

Boyd purchased Valley Forge for just over $280 million. The casino 20 miles west of Philadelphia is Boyd’s first in the state of Pennsylvania.

Valley Forge is one of the smallest casinos in the PA market, as a Category 3 licensee. That license means Valley Forge can have a total of 600 slot machines and 50 table games on premises, both numbers it has maxed out. It also features:

  • Nearly 500 hotel rooms.
  • 100,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.
  • Eight restaurants and bars.

Here’s President and CEO Keith Smith:

“The acquisition of Valley Forge Casino Resort is another excellent opportunity to further grow and diversify our nationwide portfolio.  With this acquisition, we will expand into the second-largest gaming state in the country, establishing a presence in a densely populated, high-traffic area just west of Philadelphia.

And thanks to Pennsylvania’s recent passage of gaming expansion legislation, there are new opportunities to drive incremental growth at Valley Forge through the expansion of the property’s slot capacity and the introduction of new forms of gaming.”

The recent gaming expansion enacted by PA allows Category 3 licensees to increase their number of slots for a one-time fee.

The other “new forms of gaming” Smith mentioned seems likely to include online gambling.

Boyd and online gambling?

Given its participation in the NJ market, Valley Forge gives Boyd an obvious re-entry point for iGaming.

While the licensing fees and the tax on online slots (54 percent) make it expensive to get it into the PA online gambling market, it’s not likely to be an opportunity that Boyd passes on.

Boyd has been bullish on the online gambling product in NJ before it sold its share of Borgata. Smith has also called the idea that online gambling cannibalizes land-based gaming revenue a myth, going back years. Here’s what Smith said in 2014:

“Online gaming is growing our database creating a long-term opportunity to market Borgata to an entirely new group of customers.”

Boyd also runs mobile sports betting in Nevada via the Bconnected App. It would be well-position to get into the sports betting space in PA, which also legalized sports wagering (both online and at casinos), pending a change in federal law. That could come as soon as 2018 via the New Jersey sports betting case in the US Supreme Court.

Boyd on an acquisition spree

It was a busy week for Boyd. When Penn National Gaming acquired Pinnacle Entertainment this week, Boyd picked up four casinos owned by Pinnacle.

Boyd now owns 29 gaming entertainment properties located in:

  • Nevada
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Pennsylvania

More from Smith:

“With the successful completion of our acquisitions of Valley Forge and the Pinnacle assets, Boyd Gaming will gain direct access to four of the nation’s largest gaming markets – PhiladelphiaSt. LouisKansas City and Cincinnati – with a combined population of nearly 10 million adults. We will expand our nationwide presence, operating 29 properties across 10 states.

We believe this expansion will help drive additional growth throughout our nationwide portfolio, as we market our destination properties to these new customers in the Midwest and Northeast.”

Of the markets above, Mississippi (sports betting) and Illinois (online casinos and poker) have considered gaming expansions in 2017 from which Boyd might benefit. Both will likely see a push in the new year.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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