SugarHouse opens Philadelphia’s first sportsbook

SugarHouse opens Philadelphia’s first sportsbook

Author: Marco Cerino/Tuesday, December 18, 2018/Categories: Philadelphia

SugarHouse opened Philadelphia’s first sportsbook Saturday after just 45 days from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s approval. The casino becomes the first to operate a book in a top-10 American market since the May Supreme Court decision allowing sports betting to expand.

SugarHouse General Manager, Cheryl Duhon, gave credit to the PGCB for facilitating the turnaround, allowing the Rush Street Gaming-owned property to beat Greenwood Gaming’s Parx Casino and other rivals to the starting line in the Delaware Valley.

“I don’t think we would have been able to do this without PGCB’s willingness to want to get this approved as quickly as our management team wanted this,” she said after the ribbon cutting ceremony. “That was probably the hardest part, making sure everything was in line and perfect to submit it and get everything done.”

Both SugarHouse and their sister property Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh received their licenses on Halloween and opened for a test period December 13th. After two days of dry runs with live betting, both locations formally kicked off action over the weekend.

Bettors lined up outside the location before the 10 a.m. opening, looking to wager on college and pro games, especially the National Football League.

Philadelphia Councilman Mark Squilla (D-District 1) made the first ceremonial bet, placing $20 on the hometown Eagles getting 13 from the Rams on Sunday night. Unlike many in the Garden State whose ceremonial bets involved the Giants winning the Super Bowl at long odds, this one actually cashed, as the Eagles won in an upset.

Squilla spoke to the casino’s role in the revival of North Delaware Avenue as an entertainment destination and the resurgence of Northern Liberties and Fishtown since 2000. He noted how they’ve been model corporate citizens, generating revenue for the Special Services district and donating to local causes.

“What we found out when the casino came is, the more activity you have, the safer it is,” he said. “We see the increase of economic impact it has made. What this does is drive more people, who may not have come to the casino, to bet on sports and maybe use the other amenities in the surrounding community.”

Currently, there is no timeline to bring online betting to the Keystone State, although it’s perfectly legal. SugarHouse doesn’t offer in-game betting yet, as they do in New Jersey. However, players can order food and beverage from on-site vendors to their seats with just a text.

Evan Davis, Vice President and General Counsel, echoed the appreciation for the expedited efforts of the PGCB to license vendors and partners involved with this project.

He also credited the legislature for passing laws allowing books to operate last year, before the Supreme Court even heard arguments on the case New Jersey brought to invalidate federal statutes blocking new states from offering sports betting.

“When the Supreme Court issued its decision, we were already way ahead of most other states,” he said. “That allowed the Gaming Board to jump on it and to start licensing vendors. It allowed something like this to open in just six months, allowed this to become a reality.”

Players attending the opening had more experience betting in neighboring Delaware, where locations are closer than Atlantic City. SugarHouse and other casinos? hope to get more traffic coming over the bridges from New Jersey, where over $750 million in bets and books has earned over $70 million in revenue since the start of football season in September.

The book operates until midnight on most nights and to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Players who wish to cash tickets outside of regular can at the casino’s cash cages.

Recent Department of Revenue numbers estimated that the state could bring in between $40 to $50 million a year in taxes on sports gambling over the next few years.

Marco Cerino a staff writer for The PLS Reporter based in Philadelphia. Have a question, comment or tip? Email him at