Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphians are familiar with gaming at Dave & Buster’s overlooking the Delaware River, just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Home to American food and arcade games, the 70,000-square-foot D&B complex first opened in 1994. Before casinos were in the city, gamblers bet on horse racing—most likely at Philadelphia Park (formerly the Keystone Racetrack) or its Turf Club off-track betting facilities.
Racinos (casinos attached to racetracks) previously operated slots and table games, per Act 71, signed by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in 2004. Parx Casino & Racing opened Parx Casino in December 2009. Over a decade later, the City of Brotherly Love is home to several thriving casinos. Here’s a look at the impact of casinos on Philadelphia’s economy.
Driving north on I-95, about ten miles northeast of Philadelphia, you’ll see the Parx Casino in Bensalem. Owned and operated by Greenwood Racing, Parx is the largest casino in the state. The 150,000-square-foot gaming space is more than double that of Dave and Buster’s.
The racetrack at Parx Casino & Racing first opened in 1974. Just over 35 years later, during its fourth year of operation, the Parx Casino grossed over $354 million from slots and $123 million from table games.
As a lynchpin of the state’s casino industry, Parx impacts Philadelphia’s economy through job creation and generating tax revenue. By 2021-22, Parx accounted for almost $408 million in slot revenue or a 17.5% market share in the state.
Table games generated $213.7 million in revenue, representing 21% of the state’s market share.
Dining options at Parx include Parxgrill, the Liberty Bell Gastropub, Foodies, and the Philly-famous Chickies & Pete’s. Entertainment venues like the Xcite Center and 360, a nightclub, provide live music and comedy.
The Jax bar offers patrons and gamblers a chance to catch a drink or two amidst video poker terminals and wide-screen TVs for watching sports games.
Nearby residents of Bensalem and Philadelphia may choose from various open career positions at Parx. The casino also received township approval in March 2023 to construct an on-site resort hotel.
With 300 guest rooms, a rooftop restaurant, and a 14,000-square-foot event space, the Parx Casino will join four other land-based casinos in the Philadelphia area with hotels.
SugarHouse/Rivers Casino Philadelphia
Casino tourism in Philadelphia began in earnest when the SugarHouse Casino first opened in September 2010. Located along the Delaware River Waterfront in the Fishtown neighborhood, SugarHouse rebranded to Rivers Casino Philadelphia in October 2019.
The City of Philadelphia initially estimated that the SugarHouse casino might provide over $1 billion in gaming taxes to the city and state within its first five years of operation. Less than five years after opening, an expansion between 2014-16 included new restaurants and a parking garage.
In December 2018, SugarHouse became the first casino in Philadelphia to offer sports betting. A few months later, the casino provided the state's first online sports betting platform.
Thus, in-state gambling began to compete with offshore gambling sites. Players should consider online casino real money reviews when selecting a competitor.
An online version of the SugarHouse casino went live in July 2019. The 45,000-square-foot gaming space at Rivers Casino Philadelphia now offers online versions and apps to generate more employment and tax revenue for the city and state.
Dining options at Rivers Casino Philadelphia include local favorites, like Geno’s Steaks and Rita’s Italian Ice.
Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia
In a rare occurrence, the Live! Casino launched an online version in August 2020 called PlayLive! before opening its land-based location in February 2021. The South Philly casino on Packer Avenue is within walking distance of Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and the Wells Fargo Center—home to Philadelphia's sports teams.
The Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia features over 200 guest rooms, 30 suites, 2,000 slots, 140 table games, and a sportsbook. There’s also a variety of dining and entertainment options, including The Prime Rib and Sports & Social.
The Live! Hotel earned a 2022 Travelers' Choice TripAdvisor Best of the Best award.
Community relations at Live! Casino & Hotel help to foster partnerships with local organizations to benefit the city and its surrounding areas. The casino encourages employees to volunteer within the community while donating and supporting charities.
USA Today readers voted for the Live! Rewards® Players Club to be one of the country’s top casino loyalty programs. With Tier Credits, Comps, and Flex Points, benefits include discounts with local business partners.
Promotions like a Philly Ticket Giveaway for events in the city and a New Jersey toll reimbursement make the Live! Casino & Hotel one of the city’s premier gaming establishments.
The casino is also featured on the Visit Philadelphia website to encourage tourism while contributing to the local economy.
Casinos & Communities
While casino projects in Philadelphia and the surrounding region might draw ire from local organizations—that subsides once a project succeeds. Philadelphia casinos have become a significant part of the local economy.
A 2019 report from the American Gaming Association titled “Casinos & Communities” focused on Pennsylvania’s gambling industry. The report claimed the state’s gaming industry is helping families, businesses, and communities build for the future.
Parx Casino, the report said, generates millions in annual property taxes. Most of that money goes to schools, funds first responders and emergency management systems, and contributes to addiction facilities and homeless shelters.
The impact of casinos on Philadelphia’s economy may expand well into the coming decades.