Casinos are still relatively new to Pennsylvania. In 2006, the Commonwealth’s Gaming Control Board issued its first licenses to existing racetracks and what would become the new stand-alone facilities. Live table games didn’t become legal until 2010.
The former Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack is now Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack—and more has changed than just the name. Harrah’s has added 200 additional slot machines and three new restaurants, including Café Napoli, a 24-hour Italian eatery, and BarleyQue, a microbrew and barbecue pub. This summer, you’ll also find live bands outside on the Patio most nights.
SugarHouse Casino is the only casino in Philadelphia proper, and it’s trying to expand—but plans have yet to be approved. Until then, there’s still plenty to do. Aside from slots and table games, the Refinery Bar hosts PHL17’s Phillies post-game show and a Wednesday dance party with Jerry Blavat.
Working hard to live up to its “so Vegas” ad campaign, PARX Casino and Racetrack has been bringing the celebs to Bensalem. Past guests have included Teresa Giudice of Real Housewives of New Jersey and Olympian Bruce Jenner (also of Keeping Up with the Kardashians). PARX offers slots, table games and horse racing. There’s no hotel on site, but you can book a room at one of two nearby.
The newest addition to the Pennsylvania gaming community, Valley Forge Casino Resort features two attached hotels: the Casino Tower and a Radisson. It’s the smallest of the state’s casinos, with 600 slot machines and 50 table games. Patrons must spend at least $10 in other Valley Forge Convention Center facilities before they’re admitted to the gaming floor. Amenities include restaurants, stores and a spa. You can also get a casino pass if you’re a guest at a convention, meeting or private function at the center, or if you buy a membership.
The big news at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is its new events center—a 50,000-square-foot multipurpose space that’s being put to good use, hosting musical acts like Michael Bolton, Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat, comedians, and live boxing. Nearby SteelStacks is the place for art shows, music and food festivals, and outdoor music events.
Also worth noting … In April, developer Bart Blatstein announced plans for a $500 million casino/entertainment complex in Center City Philadelphia along North Broad Street. Whether he gets the license is up for debate. Expect further developments through 2013.