First Pennsylvania Satellite Casino Ready to Open Outside Pittsburgh

Posted on: November 19, 2020, 09:10h. 

Last updated on: November 19, 2020, 02:46h.

The first of five planned Pennsylvania satellite casinos will open next week outside Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County.

Pennsylvania satellite casino Live! Pittsburgh
Members of The Cordish Companies executive team hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Live! Casino Pittsburgh. The gaming venue is the first Pennsylvania satellite to open its doors. (Image: The Cordish Companies)

The Cordish Companies is a Baltimore-based gaming, and hospitality firm. It spent $150 million to refurbish the former Bon-Ton department store at the Westmoreland Mall into a casino and entertainment destination. The mall’s anchor space is a 100,000-square-foot facility with two stories.

Cordish held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week at what is now known as Live! Casino Pittsburgh, despite the venue being some 30 miles east of the Steel City.

As a family-owned business for over 100 years, today marks a special day for my family and The Cordish Companies, as we expand our Live! Casino brand into Pennsylvania for the first time,” said Cordish Principal Jon Cordish.

The casino will open its doors to the public at 6 am next Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Category 4 Speaking

Satellite casinos, officially Category 4 gaming venues, were authorized in Pennsylvania by way of the state’s Expanded Gaming Act, which passed in 2017. At the time, the state needed revenue, and the GOP-controlled legislature refused to raise taxes on residents. Gaming expansion found favor among Republicans, as well as Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

Cordish won the second Category 4 auction round in January of 2018 with a $40.1 million bid. The $150 million investment for Live! Pittsburgh is inclusive of the $40.1 million licensing fees.

Penn National Gaming won two satellite licenses and is building in York and Morgantown. Parx Casino is building a satellite in Shippensburg, and businessman Ira Lubert is constructing a Category 4 property near Penn State University.

The first floor of Live! Pittsburgh features 750 slot machines and 30 table games, plus a FanDuel sportsbook. The upper level is open for guests of all ages and offers various food and entertainment, including non-casino games.

Opening Amid Pandemic

When Pennsylvania Republicans and Wolf signed off on the casino expansion, they had no idea what was approaching — a devastating pandemic that would close the entire state.

The Commonwealth’s 12 full-fledged casinos began reopening in June. They remain in operation, but at a maximum 50 percent capacity on Wolf’s directives. Rivers Philadelphia will shutter tomorrow through the end of the year on city orders.

Despite the 50 percent cap and other COVID-19 restrictions, Pennsylvania casinos are faring surprisingly well during the pandemic. In fact, the gaming industry posted a nearly 13 percent year-over-year revenue increase in October.

It’s why Cordish remains bullish on Pennsylvania. The firm expects Live! Pittsburgh to provide the region with a $188 million annual economic impact, $47.5 million in tax revenues, and 500 permanent jobs.

“To be creating hundreds of new permanent, well-paying jobs at this particular point in time is a real testament to the value this project is bringing to our region,” said incoming State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland). “Live! Casino is a first-class property and completely exceeded our expectations. Every step of the way, The Cordish Companies has done exactly what they promised to do. They have been a terrific partner and we are excited to welcome them to Pennsylvania.”