WHAT'S IN a name? Plenty, if you're a casino looking to expand your business.
On Friday, what has been Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack since its 2006 opening will officially be rebranded Harrah's Philadelphia. (Its website already was calling it that on Tuesday.)
"The [new name] is to complement the changes and evolution we're bringing to the property," said Ron Baumann, the gambling den's senior vice president and general manager, in reference to in-the-works upgrades of amenities including dining and entertainment. The rebranding is also a strategy to expand Harrah's marketing footprint.
"We've been a great 'locals' casino. Now we want to expand that outreach to other customers," said Baumann. "Now, when people come to Philadelphia and ask, 'Is there a Harrah's in Philadelphia?' the answer has to be 'Yes.'"
To those who have suggested that his casino is playing fast and loose with geography, Baumann replied, "They don't understand we're right next to [Philadelphia International Airport] and we're eight to 10 miles from downtown. The market is Philadelphia. We want to be a part of that market."
The name change is another blow to the long-beleaguered waterfront city whose struggles with public safety and education are well-documented.
Baumann acknowledged that city officials' "preference, I'm sure, would be to leave the name as it is." Chester Mayor John Linder did not respond to requests for a comment.
The casino exec pointed out that the soccer team that plays in nearby PPL Stadium is named the Philadelphia Union. And he drew parallels to the New York Giants and Jets football teams, which play in East Rutherford, N.J. He also insisted that in the long run, the new moniker likely would prove beneficial to Chester.
"We help the city [of Chester] by providing it with tax revenues, and by growing tax revenues — instead of bringing in $4 million a year [in taxes], bringing in $5 million a year. The way to do that is to expand our business." n
Contact Chuck Darrow at 215-313-3134 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @chuckdarrow. Read his CasiNotes casino blog at philly.com/casinotes.