Residents of Philadelphia who enjoy a modern casino experience will be well aware of SugarHouse Casino, a landmark in the area to gaming enthusiasts for the last several years. What they may not know is that by summer’s end, this casino with an historic name will get a major rebranding along with an impressive new makeover. By fall of 2019, SugarHouse Casino will be renamed “Rivers Casino Philadelphia” and will get $15 million in renovations to go along with its new moniker.
SugarHouse named to pay homage to Philadelphia’s history
SugarHouse Casino sits on a Delaware riverfront lot on Delaware Avenue that formerly housed the Jack Frost sugar refinery. SugarHouse’s owner is the gaming company Rush Street, who have a retail casino and online/mobile gaming presence in several other states as well as Pennsylvania. Rush Street’s co-founders purchased the property in 2005 and in 2010 opened a casino on the site. They chose to name the casino “SugarHouse” to give a nod to the history of both the site and Philadelphia generally.
The casino has been a success in many different ways. The property has won “Top/Best Workplace” awards, and has provided Philadelphia’s entertainment and gaming loving citizenry (and visitors) with great bars, restaurants, events, and a full casino reminiscent of those in gambling’s US mecca, Las Vegas.
SugarHouse (and Rush Street) taking gaming into the future
In the last few months, SugarHouse has been in the vanguard of PA casinos making moves in the exciting new legal landscape faced by PA’s casino operators. In December, 2018 they launched Philadelphia’s first retail sportsbook. In fact, they were one of the first operators to take legal sports bets in the entire state. In May, 2019 they became the first PA casino to launch a legal online/mobile sportsbook – a virtual duplicate of their brick and mortar one.
More and better advances are coming soon. On July 15, 2019 SugarHouse is scheduled to launch their online casino gaming platform in Pennsylvania. It is expected to be very similar (and in fact shares the same name) as the company’s PlaySugarHouse brand which has operated successfully in neighboring New Jersey for the last few years.
Visitors to playsugarhouse.com will experience an almost overwhelming cornucopia of gaming options. There are scores of different types of online slot machines, including virtual versions of the same slots available on casino floors throughout the country. There are also a wide variety of video poker offerings at many different bet levels. Also on tap are several different kinds of popular casino pit games including player favorites like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat and much much more.
The PlaySugarHouse brand also hosts the company’s sports betting platform, featuring the same games, odds, and types of bets that can be found in the casino’s retail sportsbook.
PA’s lawmakers laid the groundwork
There have been many changes in gaming in the Keystone State of late and it’s all due to a sweeping piece of legislation passed by state lawmakers in Oct of 2017. PA’s legislature deemed it quite likely that the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) would strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. SCOTUS did just that in May of 2018. During the interim, the state of Nevada enjoyed a de facto monopoly on single-game sports betting across the country.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the Pennsylvania legislature paved the way for a vast expansion of gaming in the state. They extended the scope and duties of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and created 13 new sports betting licenses, each intended for one of PA’s existing casinos (plus Stadium Casino , currently scheduled for construction), providing they wanted to pony up some serious coin for the privilege.
The PGCB’s shiny new sports betting licenses cost $10 million each and though pricey, are expansive in what they allow. Each license permits a casino operator to launch a sportsbook in their casino, as well as open additional retail locations in other suitable locations such as horse racetracks and off-track betting (OTB) parlors. Arguably of most value, these licenses allow for the expansion of a casino’s sportsbook presence to online/mobile platforms. Online sports betting will quickly come to constitute the vast majority of all sportsbook handle in Pennsylvania if PA’s gambling public behaves similarly to bettors in other jurisdictions.
In the same bill, PA lawmakers created the PA iLottery, the state’s first online lottery. The also created a “mini-casino” gaming category and made it possible for PA casinos to bid for a license to branch out and expand their physical casinos into other parts of the state. They also created online gaming licenses: one for online slots, one for online casino “pit” games, and one for online poker.
The price tag for each of these three online gaming licenses is $4 million but the entire bundle can be had for the discounted price of $10 million. SugarHouse casino shelled out $20 million for the complete set (including sports betting)
SugarHouse becomes… Rivers Casino Philadelphia
As touched on previously, SugarHouse is owned by parent company Rush Street, a gaming company specializing in both retail casinos and online gaming platforms. They also own Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, another Rivers Casino near Chicago, IL, and yet another Rivers Casino in upstate NY. Astute readers may detect a theme with which SugarHouse doesn’t quite comport.
Rush Street clearly intends to unify their brand. This certainly makes some sense from a marketing standpoint. Online sportsbooks and casino games are beginning to expand rapidly across the US and having multiple brands might make operations needlessly convoluted and inefficient.
Currently, most of Rush Street’s casino properties are under the Rivers brand, and SugarHouse could be viewed as an awkward standout. On the other hand, SugarHouse is a very successful and iconic brand in Philadelphia. Also, Rush Street has been operating a well-known and successful online site in NJ under the PlaySugarHouse brand. In fact, they currently take sports bets under the PlaySugarHouse brand.
It’s a shame all the history and goodwill associated with the SugarHouse name has to be jettisoned to make way for the Rush Street’s new paradigm.
Rush Street made wise decisions en route to the new gaming landscape in PA, particularly considering their rebranding visions. The company shelled out the $10 million per for each of their PA properties to have their own sportsbooks. However, they only bought one set of online gaming licenses (for $10 million). Why pay twice for a statewide presence in online gaming when one license meets all the needs of your one brand?
When will the changes come and what will they be?
The announcement of Rush Street’s intentions to rebrand SugarHouse casino came just this week in a presentation made to the PGCB. In early summer, SugarHouse will begin changing signage, logos, internal controls, chip sets, etc. At the same time, the Rivers Casino in western PA will change it’s signage to “Rivers Casino Pittsburgh” to more fully coordinate the branding concept.
Mid-summer (July 15) will see the company launch their iGaming platform. The form of this launch is somewhat unclear at this point. Presumably they will want to unify their online presence under the Rivers brand but as of now PlaySugarHouse is still operating in both NJ (all markets) and in PA (the sportsbook). How and when the change will be made remains to be seen.
By the end of summer, the Philadelphia property will launch their new, expanded, permanent sportsbook – the recipient of some of that $15 million make-over. A new restaurant is also planned to be added during the renovation.
By fall, Rush Street will preside over a “Ceremonial Rivers Casino Philadelphia Launch” with all the new branding in place.
PlaySugarHouse bonus code
Right now, the SugarHouse (Rivers) online casino playsugarhouse.com is offering a sweet deal to celebrate their launch in Pennsylvania. Enter the code “PA250” when signing up (or rather when you make your first deposit on the site) and players get a 100% matching bonus up to $250. Qualifying for this bonus is extremely easy, too. Players need only play through that deposit amount once (1x). Then PlaySugarHouse adds the bonus money to the player’s account.
This very attractive offer is designed to introduce players to the new site and incentivize them to deposit and start playing right away. 100% is a good matching bonus. Sometimes online casinos offer more, but 100% is solid. $250 is a nice maximum bonus amount, too. Nothing to sneeze at. Perhaps best of all, a 1x play through requirement is very nice.
“Play through” requirements mean the amount a player has to bet before the bonus is released to them. In this case, the player only needs to make a wager (or wagers) totaling the amount of the bonus. Let’s say you aim for the maximum bonus and deposit $250. You will get an additional $250 added to your account after you make $250 worth of bets on playsugarhouse.com. It makes no difference if you win, lose, or push on these bets. Just give them $250 in action and receive a $250 bonus.
By comparison, other online casinos sometimes require players to play through 2x, 5x, and even 10x before earning the deposit bonus. If you are interested in online gaming, and you’re at least 21 years old and physically located in PA, PlaySugarHouse is offering a great deal.