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The addition of online gambling and sports betting presents Pennsylvania casinos with a sweet opportunity for growth in the Commonwealth. But which are best-positioned to take advantage of the chance?
This time: SugarHouse.
Following a successful online casino rollout in New Jersey, the Philadelphia property is ready to challenge for market supremacy in PA.
SugarHouse is one of two PA casinos owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming (along with Rivers in Pittsburgh). Both hold Category 2 licenses reserved for standalone casinos without live racing.
SugarHouse received its gaming license in December 2006, but it took nearly four years for the property to open its doors. A lengthy legal battle put the project well behind schedule and forced developers to adopt a multi-phase construction strategy.
After prevailing in court, the official groundbreaking occurred on Oct. 9, 2009. The first phase of the casino opened for business less than a year thereafter.
Although it was a latecomer, SugarHouse is now one of the top-performing casinos in the crowded Pennsylvania market. Its success stems from its prime location in the heart of Philadelphia and the $164 million Phase 2 expansion completed in May 2016.
Plans for Phase 3 of the property include the addition of a hotel.
SugarHouse doesn’t possess as many slot machines as the other top-tier casinos in the state, but it overcomes the deficit with a large assortment of table games.
It was also one of the first PA casinos to open a sportsbook on property.
SugarHouse will be an active participant in every facet of PA online gambling.
The casino, through its parent company, secured a permit in all three categories: slots, table games and poker. SugarHouse also possesses a PA sports betting license which covers both land-based and online wagers.
The SugarHouse online casino and poker platforms are powered by proprietary software developed by Rush Street Interactive, the online division of Rush Street Gaming.
Building upon their relationship in New Jersey, SugarHouse uses Kambi to power the PA sports betting operation.
SugarHouse is expected to be part of the first wave of PA online casinos, with a go-live date tentatively slated for July 15.
Considering it already offers online gambling in NJ, we know what the SugarHouse PA online casino will look like and what games it’s likely to offer.
The one outstanding question relates to online poker.
SugarHouse holds a PA online poker license, but what its site will look like is anyone’s guess. The SugarHouse online casino only offers house-banked games in New Jersey.
Although Rush Street has reportedly developed an online poker platform, no one has seen it to date.
Like its online casino, SugarHouse Sportsbook is a known commodity.
The NJ online sports betting app has been live for several months and provides a glimpse of what to expect in Pennsylvania. One notable difference will likely be a greater tie-in to the retail sportsbook at SugarHouse.
SugarHouse has all of the ingredients needed to succeed in the PA online gambling market:
But success isn’t guaranteed, of course. The long-term relevance of SugarHouse will ultimately hinge on its ability to leverage these advantages.