By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s first casino was spreading its bets today, breaking ground on an expansion.
The $164-million project, which should be finished next year, will have more amenities — including a new, 30-table poker room (at far left in rendering), designed with input from poker players, right down to what kind of chairs to use.
Sugarhouse CEO Greg Carlin says it’s a very competitive marketplace now. He notes that at other casinos, slot revenue went up when they added table games and poker:
“Let’s say you have a husband and wife visiting, the wife plays poker and the husband likes to play slot machines. Before, they would go to Parx, Chester (Harrah’s), or Atlantic City. Now, they’ll come here if they live closer.”
A multipurpose event space will be added that features floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the Delaware riverfront and the Ben Franklin Bridge.
“I think it’s going to be the best space in the city to host an event,” Carlin says.
The expanded Sugarhouse will also include new restaurants and a seven-story parking garage.
Sugarhouse employs about 1,100 people now, and will be hiring 500 more in conjunction with the expansion.
Atlantic City is undergoing a gambling industry downsizing. Four casinos have either closed or announced they will close this year (see related story).
A proliferation of states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and Connecticut, have legalized casino gambling. As late as the early 1990s, Atlantic City was the only place in the northeast to gamble.