Harrah’s Racetrack and Casino is saying goodbye to Chester.
No worries, the establishment isn’t leaving the city — the casino is rebranding itself under Philadelphia’s name instead of Chester.
With the local casino industry becoming more competitive since the additions of SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Valley Forge Casino Resort in Montgomery County, Harrah’s wants to draw more traffic to its facility outside of Chester.
“We can confirm that we are working on changing the Harrah’s name as part of new developments in entertainment and dining which will better position the casino as a regional destination,” said Ron Baumann, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s in Delaware County.
Since opening its door in September 2006, Harrah’s has been one of the biggest projects in the city.
The $400 million facility has been a consistent flow of both entertainment and revenue over the years. Its gaming operations commenced in January 2007. In July 2010, table games were added. Harrah’s features 2,889 slot machines, the fifth most among the state’s 11 casinos. It contains 125 table games, the third most in the state.
Radio advertisements and billboards have already begun using the new name Harrah’s Philadelphia, while noting the casino was formerly known as Harrah’s Chester.
The website ticketmaster.com also lists concerts under the Harrah’s Philadelphia name.
“I don’t personally like it, but there’s not much I can do about it,” said Chester Mayor John Linder. “But what it does do? It’s an attempt to draw more customers to Harrah’s regionally, more than just those that are 10 or 15 minutes away. I would encourage all of them to look at the name (change) as a business move versus looking at it as a reflection of the negative image of Chester.”
Chester resident Joan Andrews doesn’t agree with Baumann’s decision on the name change.
She is a regular and believes the casino is trying to prevent people from Chester going to the casino.
“When I heard the news that the Harrah’s was changing its name, I wasn’t really surprised,” she said. “It was just the reason behind the name change that doesn’t sit well for me.”
Andrews stated she always thought advertising was something that Harrah’s was lacking — the ability to get the word out to people about the casino.
“I took the name change as a way of the casino disassociating itself with Chester,” she said. “It’s a slap in the face, especially if you live here. What you’re saying to the residents is that we are a good enough city to build a casino here, but not good enough to have the name Chester on the casino. I know it’s a business decision, but that doesn’t make it right.”