Casino operator Boyd Gaming is going to Pennsylvania, as the Las Vegas company announced Wednesday that it will acquire the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia for $280.5 million.
The all-cash deal is Boyd’s first entry into the Keystone State in its more than 40-year history.
Valley Forge is one of two Category 3 casinos in Pennsylvania, a designation that requires gaming patrons to either stay on property or spend at least $10 elsewhere in the resort. But that’s without a special add-on fee to eliminate those caveats.
Under the state’s massive gambling expansion bill signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf (D) in late October, Category 3 licensees can pay an additional $1 million to free the entry restrictions. Valley Forge anted up just days after the measure passed, meaning anyone can now freely gamble there.
The current casino is 40,000-square-feet, with 600 slot machines and 50 table games. The $1 million fee also permits the resort to add 250 slot machines, which Boyd says it will do next year. The resort offers nearly 500 hotel rooms, eight restaurants and bars, and over 100,000 square feet of convention space.
Valley Forge had been owned by a group of investors based in Philadelphia. The acquisition is expected to be completed in late summer or early fall 2018.
Valley Forge, best known for being the Revolutionary War camp of George Washington during the harsh winter of 1777-78, is 20 miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia. The Main Line area includes some of the wealthiest communities in the United States, with the median family income well over $100,000, and the average home price around $1 million.
But Valley Forge Casino isn’t the only game in town. With a 30-mile radius, there’s Harrah’s in Chester, SugarHouse in downtown Philadelphia, and Parx just north of the city in Bensalem. A fifth area casino is under construction in the Stadium District.
Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion calls for 10 new satellite casinos placed at least 25 miles from current gaming venues. Most of the Philadelphia suburbs have opted out of the “mini-casino” bidding process, but nearby Reading says it wants one of the establishments.
Pennsylvania, already the No. 2 commercial gaming state in the US, will additionally soon allow casinos to offer internet gambling. Valley Forge is expected to enter the interactive market in 2018.
Despite many unknown variables surrounding Pennsylvania’s gambling market, Boyd Gaming apparently likes what it sees in Valley Forge. Boyd CEO Keith Smith said it’s an “excellent opportunity” to grow the company’s nationwide portfolio.
It’s not just Pennsylvania that Boyd likes. Last week, the company announced a $575 million deal to buy the operational rights to Penn National’s two Ameristar casinos in Missouri, as well as its Belterra casinos in Indiana and Ohio.
Penn National, the state’s oldest operator, recently entered into an agreement to buy Pinnacle Entertainment for $2.8 billion.