Live! turns 1

Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia celebrated its first anniversary on Feb. 10. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

It was a happy first birthday for the Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia on Packer Avenue.

The anniversary celebration went big with cake, Mummers, magic tricks and a proclamation from the city declaring Feb. 11 as Live! Day.

Though the casino opened its doors one year ago in a challenging time in the midst of the pandemic, business has been good during the first year. 

“We had no playbook for this,” said Joe Billhimer, executive vice president, Cordish Gaming Group. “It’s an understatement to say that it’s been quite a journey to get to this point, opening in the middle of a pandemic, operating our first year under a cloud of restrictions and mandates coming up all the time, and competing with other casinos in this region who were under different restrictions. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of this property and the incredible management team and team members that pulled together at every challenge that came our way to get us here today.”

Joe Billhimer, Executive Vice President, Cordish Gaming Group talks at Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia’s first anniversary. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

The casino celebrated a successful first year with a cake from South Philly staple Termini Brothers Bakery. The cake was cut by former Philadelphia Eagles long snapper and magician Jon Dorenbos. The event opened with the 2022 Mummers champion South Philadelphia String Band marching through the gaming floor. Live! also celebrated the economical impact it has made on the surrounding neighborhoods. 

“We’re so proud of the positive impact that we’ve made on our local communities during our first year in business and thank the City of Philadelphia for their kind recognition,” said David Cordish, chairman, The Cordish Companies. “We kept our promise to create a world-class destination, which has also proven to be an economic driver for the Greater Philadelphia region.”

Over the last year, the casino claims it has made more than $325 million to the local and state economies, which includes $91 million in state taxes. It also spent $100 million on local minority- and women-owned businesses in the community and created 1,300 permanent jobs. More than half of its employees live in the city. 

“We have a lot of community groups that are at the benefit of it,” City Councilman Mark Squilla said. “When you hear of a casino being built, sometimes you only hear the negative things that people believe may be associated with a casino. But Live! brought us the positive things. To be able to use not only the casino’s presence, but also partner through sports organizations and groups in the stadium district and registered community organizations to make not only an area near the casino better, but all the areas around the casino a better place for residents, visitors and the workers to be at.”

Philadelphia Council member Mark Squilla talks at Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia’s first anniversary. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

The casino donated $454,000 and more than 500 hours of community service to local nonprofit organizations in its first year including Philabundance, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Jaws Youth Playbook, Darren Daulton Foundation and the Delaware Valley and Southeast Youth Athletic Leagues.

“As a family-owned company, we consider the community to be extended members of the Live! family. We’re proud to be able to provide jobs and support local businesses, in addition to contributing directly to the organizations helping to better the lives of those around us,” Billhimer said. “We look forward to continuing this support during year two, and beyond.”

former Philadelphia Eagles long snapper and magician Jon Dorenbos talks on stage at Live! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia. Photo/Mark Zimmaro