Presque Isle Downs & Casino near Erie, Pennsylvania is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The racing facility opened on February 28, 2007 with the racetrack itself opening in September of that year. In doing so it revived thoroughbred racing for the first time since Erie Downs closed in 1987.
It currently has 2,000 slots, buffets, and fine dining restaurant, clubhouse dining, all in a Las Vegas-style atmosphere. It hosts concerts and boxing.
In the decade since its opening Presque Isle has changed owners, added table games, poker and a high limit room. Its current owner is Nevada-based Eldorado Resorts. It has sparked commercial development along Route 97, including hotels, dining and gas stations. More than 4,100 visit it each day on average.
Its annual gross revenue was $118 million in the fiscal year ending June 30. It has paid Erie County millions of dollars in county and municipal assessments and paid $104 million to the county itself since it opened.
Perry Wood, executive director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority told Go Erie: “I would say that Presque Isle Downs has been Erie’s golden goose.” Each year the county collects $11 million, keeping half and distributing the rest as grants. “None of the funding that goes to the hundreds of nonprofits and municipalities to do creative and innovative things would be possible without local share gaming revenue,” Wood said. “You can’t underestimate the economic impact.”
Money the casino pays in taxes and grants is in jeopardy. The state’s Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional the part of the state law that required casinos to pay fees to host communities.
State lawmakers are working to fix this problem.
Presque Isle Downs is also struggling to prosper in a gaming market that has more and more players every year. Its newest competition is Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca, New York, offering slots and table games. Other competitors are the Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington County, Rivers near Pittsburgh, and three casinos near Cleveland, Ohio.
To be more competitive Presque Isle recently spent several years upgrading its casino floor and modernizing its dining, while adding new machines.