Oft-delayed Philadelphia casino opens for trial run

Sep 21, 2010 8:56 AM

Philadelphia's first casino is finally getting ready to open its doors for real.

The SugarHouse casino began a two-day trial run to benefit charity on Monday — and work out any kinks before its scheduled Thursday opening.

The oft-delayed casino project had been beset by community opposition and other issues since being granted one of the state's gaming licenses in 2004. But barring unexpected problems, the casino is a go.

"There's something very special about being part of an opening," SugarHouse general manager Wendy Hamilton told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "We walk past each other high-fiving. The level of excitement is amazing."

Casino officials say the project has brought 800 full-time jobs and 100 part-time jobs to the city.

Critics say the imminent opening of the casino is a disappointment, but they're not done fighting. Casino-Free Philadelphia plans a long-term campaign to dampen earnings by publicizing issues like gambling addiction, said spokesman Dan Hajdo. The group held a protest outside the building Monday night.

The gaming hall scheduled to open Thursday is an interim facility. Developers plan to build a parking garage which will free up parking lot space to expand the casino.

A second casino planned for the southern end of the city's waterfront is in need of new investors after billionaire casino developer Steve Wynn backed out.