“Take a look at South Philly's massive new casino, opening in the middle of the pandemic - WHYY” plus 2 more

“Take a look at South Philly's massive new casino, opening in the middle of the pandemic - WHYY” plus 2 more

Take a look at South Philly's massive new casino, opening in the middle of the pandemic - WHYY

Posted: 15 Jan 2021 03:14 AM PST

After more than five years — through two presidential administrations, two Philly mayors, the Eagles winning the Super Bowl and firing their Super Bowl-winning head coach — plans for a massive casino and hotel near the South Philadelphia stadiums are coming to fruition.

They'll finally be fully realized next month, when Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia opens its doors to the general public and becomes the second major casino within city limits.

Members of the media got a sneak peak of the 510,000 square-feet, $700 million facility during a tour Thursday.

Rob Norton, president of Cordish Gaming Group, the casino's developer, began by acknowledging the "elephant in the room:" that they were opening a palace of in-person pleasure while the coronavirus pandemic rages and officials continue to beg people to stay at home.

Norton said he's confident the facility's temperature guns, plastic separators, air filters, and other safety measures will keep patrons safe.

"While almost all other businesses are struggling just to keep their doors open we're opening and creating new jobs," he said. "We're proud to be in that position."

Live! Hotel and Casino on Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia's Stadium District. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Built for thousands, casino pivots to solo experience

The casino's vast floor is stocked with more than 2,100 slot machines, 121 table games, and a dedicated poker room.

Televisions the size of movie theater screens play live sports. Hungry patrons can choose from a dozen eateries and bars. There are upscale options, as well as burger and taco restaurants operated by Guy Fieri.

In normal times, the casino and hotel could see thousands of people drinking, playing, eating, and carousing at once.

But it will open with far fewer than that initially, allowing no more than five people per 1,000 square feet in order to comply with Philadelphia's pandemic restrictions.

In fact, much of the casino is currently laid out to prioritize the solo experience: slot machines are walled off by plastic guards, and gamers can play electronic versions of blackjack and roulette that minimize in-person interaction.

When pressed on why casino management doesn't simply wait until the pandemic abates to open, Cordish Gaming Chief Marketing Officer Jake Joyce said their schedule was driven by altruism: the casino has already hired about 1,200 people.

The longer that we wait to open, it's less of an economic impact to our community," Joyce said.  "It is not just jobs — those [workers] go to grocery stores; they dry clean their clothes. It's a positive ripple effect as we open."

Management said they will pay all workers — it expects to hire about 2,000 when it's fully operational — at least $12 an hour.

Nyia Williams was training to operate a virtual blackjack table on Thursday. The 35-year-old North Philly native said she thinks the casino will be hopping when pandemic restrictions lift, but they are currently putting a damper on her excitement.

Nyia Williams, 35, is a part-time virtual blackjack dealer at Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

"You have to walk around with a mask, you have this plexiglass, which makes it very hard to hear," she said. "And when you're with your fellow employees you want to get together and experience it together — you can't really do that [right now]."

Well before the pandemic, Live! faced some opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods. Some South Philly residents started speaking out against the development when it was first publicized in 2014, arguing it would create parking shortages and hurt their property values. 

A saturated market

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has been brutal to Pennsylvania's casinos: revenue from table games and slot machines declined 30% statewide in November 2020 compared to November 2019.

Live! Casino and Hotel is also opening into a market that is already fairly saturated. Four of Pennsylvania's 12 brick-and-mortar casinos are located within 25 miles. And Atlantic City is less than two hours away.

Table-game staff train ahead of the opening of Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

So what makes management confident that this is an investment worth making? Its neighbors.

"There are four professional sports teams in our parking lot," Joyce said. "If you want to play in the action where they are playing, this is where you're playing.

Joyce also noted that the casino was located conveniently near the I-76 and I-95 highways.

Live! Casino and Hotel expects to generate $2 billion dollars in economic stimulus for Philadelphia, including $100 million in direct tax revenues to the city in its first five years of operation.

The opening of the South Philly casino was delayed in part by objections lodged by the operators of Rivers Casino Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse), located in Fishtown. A 2019 study by Rutgers University found a new Philadelphia casino would further erode Atlantic City's dwindling position.

Those tensions are part of what has critics doubting the long-term viability of Live!'s economic impact projections.

"The entire northeastern gaming market is pretty much saturated at this point," said Clyde Barrow, a gaming industry consultant and political science professor at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. "All you are doing is moving jobs and revenue from one place to another. You are not really generating net new growth."

Barrow added that virtually every casino constructed in the Northeast over the last decade has underperformed initial expectations: "There's no reason to expect this casino would be any different."

The decline of in-person gaming may be accelerated by a trend that increased during the pandemic: a move toward online or mobile gaming. Internet gaming revenue in Pennsylvania increased by more than six-fold between November 2019 and November 2020.

But although opening a casino now may not make a lot of sense from a health perspective, it shows a lot of business savvy, Barrow said.

"You know you are at the [bottom] of the economic cycle," Barrow said. "We now are distributing vaccines — things will start to open up again … it may be another full year before we see that realized, but you are opening into the growth phase of the business cycle."

QTech Games teams up with Evolution - Casino City Times

Posted: 15 Jan 2021 06:51 AM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]QTech Games teams up with Evolution  Casino City Times

Virginia Online Casinos: Top 3 Casinos Apps in VA - Lineups

Posted: 12 Jan 2021 12:00 AM PST

Virginia 1

Viriginia is one of the last states in the U.S. to legalize casino gaming. The state legislation approved five cities to have online casino gaming in 2019. Voters would vote on if the casinos were allowed in the 2020 election. The Old Dominion State is expected to open its casino doors in 2022 and 2023.

The four cities approved for casinos are Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth and will begin the developing stage in 2021. Richmond will come the following year. Virginia is in the infancy of its gaming industry and should see great results in 2021 and beyond when sports betting goes live, and then casino gaming follows. Here is what the Virginia gaming industry could look like.


Virginia Lottery Board


Kevin Hall, Executive Director
Kevin Hall has been apart of the Virginia Lottery Board since January 2018 and has helped the state reach record revenue numbers since. This has helped Virginia K-12 schools in the process. Hall is now responsible for online sports betting and land-based casino gaming in the Commonwealth.

Ferhan Hamid, Chairman
Ferhan Hamid is Managing Director & Co-Founder of Red Fort Strategies and the President & CEO of Hamid Enterprises, Inc.

Cynthia D. Lawrence, Vice Chairman
Cynthia Lawrence is a special projects assistant at Carilion Clinic. Larence has been on the Virginia Lottery Board since being appointed by Governor Kaine in 2006.

Vonda M. Collins, CPA
Vonda Collins is Director of Legal Operations for Altria.

Orrin K. Gallop
Orrin Gallop is the Assistant Chief and Commander of Investigative Services at the Hampton Police.

Kimberley L. Martin
Kimberly Martin is the CEO & Founder of KLM Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

Scott A. Price
Scott Price is the Regional Policy Director for Dominion Energy.

Christopher Tsui
Christopher Tsui is the President of EAT Restaurant Partners.

The Virginia Lottery has been around for over 30 years and helps the state invest lottery revenue back into the commonwealth's school districts. The Lottery uses revenue from game sales instead of tax dollars and earns about $1.6 million per day for Virginia K-12 public schools. Virginia Lottery already oversees lottery games like Mega Millions, Powerball, and more. Starting soon, they will also begin to regulate online sports betting and in-person casino gaming. The Board's powers are outlined in statute at Virginia Code 58.1-4007, and the Governor selects all Virginia Lottery Board members.

Approved Casinos and Locations

Hard Rock Casino Bristol

The Hard Rock Casino Bristol is expected to be a 90,000 square foot casino with a live concert venue and have 600-1000 hotel rooms. The casino is expected to be worth $150 million and will open in late 2022 early 2023. Bristol is a great location right on the Virginia-Tennessee border and a state that does not have casinos.

Caesars Virginia

Danville will see Caesars build its casino in the city. The Danville City Council voted unanimously to allow casino gaming in Danville. State legislators put effort to allow Danville to have casino gaming, and the city finally approved. William Hill will most likely see its sportsbook at this location, thanks to William Hill's partnership.

Norfolk Resort & Casino

Norfolk will see the Pamunkey Indian Tribe build a casino on the waterfront. The tribe proposed a $700 million casino and hole built next to the minor league baseball stadium. There is an option to buy the land for $10 million, as of writing.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth

Not too many details have been made for Rivers Casino Portsmouth. It would be built near the marina on the Elizabeth River. BetRivers would also have a retail location at this spot.

Richmond is a year behind the other four cities with launching a casino. The state is expected to find a location and a casino operator in the summer of 2021 and have it approved in November 2021. Richmond is the one city that will not need the citizens to vote on a physical casino's approval. The city will vote to decide which casino operator will enter the area.

Potential Online Casinos

Virginia just passed in-person casino gaming in November 2020 when the state's citizens voted on approving it in its respective cities. Online sports betting is also expected to launch in early 2021, but there is no word on whether online casinos will be coming to the state.

States that have online casinos launched in-person casinos first, and Virginia will not see them opening up until late 2022/early 2023 at the earliest. Online casinos will be a long-term plan for Virginia to make, and it might not come closer to 2030 before it happens.

However, if it does happen, we could see three potential online casinos in the commonwealth.

draftkings icon-box-white-grey150

DraftKings Casino

DraftKings Online Casino has the potential to enter the commonwealth if online casino gaming becomes legal. The state will most likely see DraftKings enter the sports betting industry in Virginia, so also launching an online casino will be easy. DraftKings Online Casino is in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and it will soon launch in Michigan.

FanDuel Casino

Expect FanDuel Online Casino to also launch in Virginia if the sports betting operator launches a mobile sportsbook in 2021. FanDuel is right behind DraftKings in market share and will want to keep up with its competitor if DraftKings expands its online casino into multiple states. One thing that is interesting with FanDuel Online Casino is that it uses its partner company, Betfair, in New Jersey. The same thing could happen in Virginia depending on the route FanDuel wants to go when it's time.


BetMGM Casino

Another possibility would be BetMGM Online Casino. Virginia has one more in-person casino location in Richmond that does not have an operator yet, and it could bet MGM. If this happens then, BetMGM's Online Casino would definitely be entering the commonwealth. BetMGM also has a legit online casino thanks to its partnerships and building an online casino similar to its in-person one. BetMGM would have a great online casino for Virginia, and it would be a massive hit early on if the commonwealth allows online casino gaming to happen.

Potential Online Casino Games

Online Slots
Slots are definitely the most popular and have the largest selection among online casinos. There are different options to choose from three-reel traditional slots to more progressive and adventure-style slots games. There are hundreds to choose from in any online casino.

DraftKings Slots
Online Poker
Online poker could be seen in Virginia, depending on the laws that are created around it. Usually, states separate poker from traditional online casino gaming. Online poker in states that have legalized it is prevalent among its users and only expands the online casino industry that much more. You can play the computer or do live-dealer poker with real competitors.
Poker Promotion BetMGM
The one online gaming industry, Virginia has is the online lottery. Virginia's online lottery generates around $1.2 million per day and is a huge boost to Virginia K-12 public schools. Users can play lottery games or buy lottery tickets from their smartphones instead of doing it in person. Players need to be in the state to play and must be 21 years or older.
Online Roulette
Online roulette is an option for online casinos, depending on where you play. Some states have limited roulette options depending on popularity. You can usually find variations of European Roulette, French Roulette, or American Roulette, depending on which online casino you are using.

Online BlackJack
Online blackjack has become more popular with online casinos in recent years. There is traditional blackjack, similar to what can be found at a physical casino. However, you can also find many variations of blackjack in online casinos. The minimum bets are also usually lower than physical casinos, and you don't need to wait for a seat to open up to play.

Draftkings casino Games
Live Dealer Games
Live dealer games bring the physical casino right to your fingertips. This is the closest thing you can get to playing casino games without being in-person. Live dealer games have an actual dealer playing with you instead of the computer. You can play blackjack, roulette, and baccarat in live dealer settings. Depending on gaming laws, you can also play live dealer poker as well.
DraftKings Live Dealer

Virginia Casino FAQ

Does Virginia have online casino gaming?

No, Virginia does not have legal online casino gaming. The commonwealth recently passed in-person casino gaming in 2020, but there is no plan for online casino gaming soon. Online casino gaming will most likely not be seen in the state until closer to 2030, when Virginia can see how popular in-person casino gaming is and what the online sports betting market looks like.

Which casinos are operating in Virginia?

Right now, there are no currently casinos operating in Virginia. The state did approve of the Hard Rock, Caesars, Rivers Casino, and Norfolk Resort. Richmond will have a fifth location voted on in 2021. You can expect the Hard Rock, Caesars, Rivers Casino, and Norfolk Resort to launch in-person gaming in late 2022/early 2023 at the earliest.

What games do Virginia online casinos offer?

Virginia does not have online casino gaming, but we can assume online casinos will allow slots, table games, live dealer games, lottery games, and online poker. A majority of states with online casinos also allow these types of games to be played in the state.

Who regulates Virginia casinos?

The Virginia Lottery will regulate casinos and online sports betting. The Virginia Lottery board already oversees the lottery in the state, which has done very well. There are eight board members on the Virginia Lottery, and the Virginia Governor appoints all members. Terms are also staggered for board members.

How old do you have to be to enter a Virginia casino?

There is no age limit to enter a Virginia casino, but you must be 21 years or older to play. The state allows anyone to be in the casino. To be able to play is a bit different, however. This is different from other states, as it is normal for you to be 21 years to enter the casino.

Does Virginia do anything to assist problem and compulsive gamblers?

Virginia just set up Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund and will be putting some of the funds from Virginia's gaming revenue to help solve problem gambling. Virginia also set up a toll-free Problem Gambling Helpline, 888-532-3500.

How much revenue do Virginia casinos bring in?

Since Virginia does not have casinos operating in the state yet, there is no revenue to base it. However, some projections have Virginia casinos bringing in $367 million annually to the state. Northern Virginia casinos could bring in close to $100 million thanks to outsiders coming in and using the casinos.

Are casinos partnered with online sportsbooks?

Online sportsbooks will not be partnered with casinos. However, the two entities could partner, but online sports betting will launch before casinos will be operating. Some sportsbooks like BetRivers and William Hill could have partnerships with its casino affiliate, but sports betting operators will not have official partners.


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