Pennsylvania Gaming: SugarHouse Rebranding, Casino Satellite and Truck Stop VGTs Approved

Posted on: June 13, 2019, 11:37h. 

Last updated on: June 13, 2019, 11:37h.

The Pennsylvania gaming landscape continues to change. Soon, the SugarHouse Casino will be known as Rivers Casino Philadelphia, as the property’s parent company looks to align its US gaming locations under one brand.

Pennsylvania gaming SugarHouse casino
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is one of the busiest casino regulatory agencies in the country. This week, the board approved the first location for truck stop video gaming terminals such as these seen here. (Image: David Proeber/The Pantagraph)

Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based gaming and hospitality group, gained approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) this week for the branding transition. Rush owns and operates Rivers casinos in Des Plaines, Illinois, Schenectady, New York, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Gaming in Pennsylvania has evolved tremendously,” Rush Street CEO Greg Carlin explained, “Keeping pace with the changing landscape has been paramount to our success. Creating a unified brand is another example of how we’re anticipating and responding to the competitive market for gaming.”

SugarHouse opened in 2010, and has been Rush’s only non-Rivers branded casino. It was named as such due to being located on the site of the former Jack Frost Sugar Refinery.

Satellite Approved

Also this week, the PGCB formally signed off on Penn National Gaming’s plans for a $110 million mini-casino in Berks County along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The facility – Hollywood Casino Morgantown – will measure 89,500 square feet with 750 slot machines, 30-40 table games, sportsbook, and dining and entertainment facilities.

Penn National acquired the rights to the satellite in April 2018 when it presented a winning $7,500,003 bid. Some locals aren’t exactly happy a casino is coming to the edge of Amish country.

It doesn’t reflect the values of this area,” a woman told WFMZ. “I fear it will bring in undesirable things, like drugs, sex trafficking, more traffic, and some things that might cause problems for families and children.”

Others, however, voiced support. “I think it will be a good thing to have around here, because this place is boring,” resident Carissa Jones opined.

Four other satellite proposals remain pending with the PGCB. Penn National has another mini-casino in the works for York, Parx Casino is developing a property in Shippensburg, Mount Airy is working on plans in Big Beaver, and Live! Philadelphia is focused on Greensburg.

Speaking of the latter, Live’s plans for the $700 million casino resort in the Philly’s stadium district were finalized and approved this week.

VGT Authorization

Along with the satellites, Pennsylvania’s gaming expansion bill passed in 2017 authorized certain truck stops to include video gaming terminals (VGTs). State-based Rutter’s, which has roughly 70 convenience store fuel plaza locations, believes around one-third of its properties meet the conditions for the gaming devices.

On Wednesday, the PGCB approved the first VGT truck stop. It’s a Rutter’s along Route 75 in Western Pennsylvania’s Juniata County. The company has 19 other stores submitted with the gaming board for VGT consent.

State law requires that the truck stops sell at least 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel each month, have at least 20 parking spaces for commercial vehicles, be a Pennsylvania Lottery retailer, and be situated on a property measuring at least three acres. Each approved location can house up to five VGTs.

The definition of “commercial vehicle” has caused controversy. Local communities were also afforded the right to opt out of the satellite casino host bidding process, but weren’t afforded such exemption for the VGTs.

“Local residents deserve to have their voices heard in this process,” Pennsylvania Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) said recently. The state lawmaker represents the conservative Amish Lancaster County.