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South Philly Casino set to open in February

Artwork welcomes potential guests in the front lobby of the new Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia in South Philly. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Finishing touches are being made as a new hotel and casino is set to open in South Philly next month.

The Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia plans to open the doors to its 510,000 square-foot multi-level facility at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11 at 900 Packer Avenue, a short walk from the South Philadelphia Sports Complex.

The Casino will feature more than 2,000 state-of-the-art slot machines, 121 live action table games, a 29-table poker room, 74 dealer-assist electronic table games, as well as FanDuel Sportsbook, in addition to fine dining, entertainment and luxurious hotel rooms. The facility plans to open at limited capacity in accordance with state regulations regarding the COVID-19 safety protocol.

The game room at Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“We’re opening this facility in one of the most difficult economical periods of United States history,” acknowledged Robert Norton, President of Cordish Gaming during a media tour on Jan. 14. “One of the reasons we’ve been able to do that is our commitment as a company to doing things in an extremely aggressive way to be safe, and to be an industry leader and stay ahead of the curve.”

That includes several methods of keeping the new space safe and sanitized for guests and gamers. Contactless thermal screeners will take guests’ temperatures at each entrance and an Atmos Air Bi-Polar Air Purification system has been installed within the HVAC system to treat and clean the air in the facility, including any virus particulates. It is designed to perform 12 air changes per hour throughout the property, which is more than twice the frequency of most commercial buildings. Masks and social distancing are required at all times inside the building.
 Other measures such as plexiglass have been installed at card tables and cashier stations, while slot machines are programmed to create social distancing by shutting off adjacent machines when one is in play.

“As you walk through, you will see tremendous amounts of plexiglass to make sure we are separating every consumer and employee,” Norton said.

Joe Billhimer, executive vice president, Cordish Gaming Group gives a media tour of the Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia. Photo/Mark Zimmaro.

A big factor in casino operators deciding to open during the pandemic was to help boost the local economy, which has suffered greatly over the past 10 months due to the pandemic. The Casino is expected to generate over $2 billion in economic stimulus to the City, along with $100 million in tax revenues for the City in its first five years of operation, including $25 million to Philadelphia’s School District, according to casino officials. It is expected to create 2,000 permanent jobs in addition to 3,000 jobs that were created for construction. Some employees have already been hired. More expect to start work soon, which helped spur the decision not to delay the opening.

“I’d say we have about 1,100 people that are planning on having a job,” said Joe Billhimer, executive vice president, Cordish Gaming Group. “I also think that the consumer wants to come out to a safe environment. I think we are in a good position to do that.”

The casino is wrapping up construction but many pieces are in place a month prior to the opening.

An electrician works on wiring inside the Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia, which is set to open on Feb. 11. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

The property features an upscale, 12-story, 208-room luxury hotel which includes incredible views of the stadiums, Center City Philadelphia, and the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridges from the butler-serviced presidential suites as well as several regular guest rooms.

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

The building features a wide variety of dining venues including The Prime Rib, which can seat up to 300 people for fine dining. Other restaurants include Luk Fu and Sports & Social Philly, which will feature a FanDuel Sportsbook and Lounge. Another section of the casino, the “10th Street Market” is a unique food hall inspired by food markets in Philadelphia.

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Tenants include Lorenzo and Sons Pizza, Sang Kee Noodle Bar & Kitchen, Termini Brothers Bakery and two venues from Emmy award-winning Chef and TV personality Guy Fieri: Guy’s Burger Joint and Guy Fieri’s Taco Joint, as well as Morty’s Deli, and bar called Luckie’s Liquor. A six-room, 15,000 square-foot Event Center is primed to entertain guests who don’t necessarily have gambling as their highest priority.

This is built with retail in mind,” Billhimer said. “It doesn’t have to be a gambler. Somebody that likes great cocktails or great food, they’re going to love this.”

Because of its close proximity to the stadiums, the casino aims to attract sports fans before and after events, as well as concertgoers once tours return to town.

“Come (to South Philadelphia) on a Sunday morning for a tailgate and you’ll see 50,000 people out there who never make it into the stadium,” said Jake Joyce Chief Marketing Officer at Cordish Gaming. “We go where the people go.”

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Tailgaters can watch the game at the casino and place bets through the FanDuel Sportsbook on that game or any other game nationally. Guests will have access to self-service kiosks and retail windows, surrounded by televisions broadcasting their favorite games.

The Cordish Company dates back to 1910 and encompasses four generations of privately-held family ownership, which includes the Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos in Hollywood and Tampa, as well as Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland.

“Everything we do, is done with a flair for doing it like a family,” Norton said. “We do that with how we operate and how we treat our employees and how we treat our guests and community. And we’re excited to bring that culture, that energy and that approach here to the Philadelphia market.”

The game room at Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia. Photo/Mark Zimmaro
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