Much to the chagrin of the tourist business in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania legalized casinos via the 2004 Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, which resulted in over a dozen standalone casinos in PA. As you’re probably well aware, the state issued two Philadelphia casino licenses, to Sugarhouse, on the Fishtown waterfront, and to Foxwoods, on the river next to Pennsport. Sugarhouse opened its doors in 2010 and has seemingly been successful, even expanding its footprint a couple years back. Foxwoods never happened due to neighborhood opposition, and its license was revoked in 2010.
After a couple years of legal wrangling, this set up an epic battle for the city’s second casino license. Options included Market East, North Broad Street, another waterfront location, and three sites in South Philadelphia. In 2014, the PA Gaming Control Board selected 900 Packer Ave. as the site for Philadelphia’s second casino, triggering a few more years of lawyers fighting with each other. Eventually, all the lawsuits were either thrown out or resolved and construction got started earlier this year. At this point, the former Holiday Inn has undergone some considerable interior demolition work, which you can see in these images:
Of course, the renovation of the old hotel is only part of the project. The casino, which is being developed by Cordish Companies and Greenwood Gaming and will be called Live! Hotel and Casino, will also include a low rise building which still needs to get built. When it opens, the $600M+ casino will include over 200 hotel rooms, 2,600 parking spaces, over 2,000 slot machines, 125 table games, some restaurants, and a club or two. And it’s gonna look like it was touched by King Midas himself.
Way back in 2012, after Foxwoods lost their license, we advocated for building this casino near the stadiums, so to the extent that we’re cool with another casino in Philadelphia, we’re generally on board with this project. If we’re nitpicking though, we would have preferred to see this casino in a slightly different location, centralized in the Stadium District, next to Xfinity Live!. Owned by the same company that’s developing the casino, Xfinity Live! would seem to dovetail nicely with a casino, and with sports betting now legalized, we are visualizing a renovated Xfinity Live! as the best sports book in the country. But the Holiday Inn location is fine too, and will have the benefit of easier ingress and egress for cars and less of a traffic impact on game days. Plus, dressing up the old hotel building will be positive step, assuming you’re a fan of glitz.
The casino is expected to open its doors in 2020. Would it be too much to ask for a championship parade to mark the occasion? Looking at you, Sixers.