By Steve Beauregard
Up until just a few years ago, Philadelphians wanting to hit the slots or blackjack tables would have to make the long trek to Atlantic City.
Nowadays, the City of Brotherly Love is blessed with an abundance of gambling options as there are four casinos located within 20 miles of downtown Philadelphia.
One of these casinos, the SugarHouse, is actually located in the city, while the other three are within reasonable driving times away, (most times).
These four busy casinos bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per month in gaming revenue.
In fact, based on figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, these four Philly-area casinos account for approximately 38% of all of the state’s casino revenue.
The SugarHouse Casino is the closest casino to downtown Philadelphia
Here’s a brief look at the four area casinos:
(The red star is the SugarHouse Casino, Black = Harrah’s Philadelphia. Purple is the Parx Casino while the brown star is Valley Forge Casino Resort)
(Red star on map)
Opened in 2010, the SugarHouse is the only casino located right in Philadelphia.
Located on the banks of the Delaware River, it’s just 1.5 miles northeast of downtown, in the Fishtown neighborhood.
Named after the former sugar refinery on whose land it now occupies, SugarHouse has 1,813 slots and video poker machines.
The 103 table games include all the usual favorites (blackjack, craps, roulette), along with 3-card poker, Spanish 21, mini-baccarat, Pai Gow, and several carnival games.
(Related: Casinos in Pittsburgh)
The 28 table poker room spreads $1/3 no-limit hold’em on up, and has daily high-hand promotions. Tournaments are held every day except some Fridays.
The conference rooms and events center hosts everything from small corporate meetings to boxing to big name comedy acts and concerts.
And while it doesn’t have a hotel, seven dining options dot the resort, ranging from sports bars to the popular Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chophouse to a branch of the world famous Geno’s Steaks.
The 22 acre parcel SugarHouse sits on includes a large 8-story parking garage along with plenty of uncovered parking. Parking is free.
Address & Phone
1001 N Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Parx Casino is the busiest casino in Pennsylvania
In terms of gaming revenue Parx is the busiest casino not only in Philadelphia, but the entire state of Pennsylvania.
Situated 19 miles northeast of downtown, Parx is anywhere from a 25 minute to hour long drive.
There are two main buildings here, the massive Parx casino building, and Parx East. Parx East is where you’ll find the horse racing track and betting parlor, as well as the poker room.
Opened in 2009 (its accompanying racetrack opened in 1974), Parx has by far the most number of slot machines and video poker machines in the state, boasting 3,411 slot/video machines total.
You’ll find 130 table games here. In addition to the standard table games such as craps and blackjack, there offer a lot of carnival games and some stadium-style blackjack games.
A $50 million expansion in 2017 included a brand new 48 table poker room.
The main Parx Casino has 8 different restaurants, including the popular Chickie’s & Pete’s sports bar, and an Earl of Sandwich. There are two additional restaurants at Parx East.
In addition to bars and a club, there’s also a brand new 1,500 seat entertainment venue called the Xcite Center.
Parking is free, and there are a ton of uncovered outdoor parking spaces to choose from (5,000 to be exact).
As with SugarHouse, Parx does not have a hotel attached to the casino.
Address & Phone
2999 Street Road
Bensalem, PA 19020
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino
Formerly called Harrah’s Chester, this casino is 18 miles southwest of Philadelphia’s city center.
Harrah’s Philadelphia is just 18 miles southwest of downtown
This equates to a 20 to 30 minute drive on Interstate 95 for most of the way. However this drive is more in the hour-long range if leaving during the weekday afternoon rush hour.
The casino opened in 2007 with slots and horse racing. Table games were added in 2010.
Harrah’s boasts 2,450 slot machines and video poker machines. I don’t have a count of their table games, however it’s less than those found at Parx, but still includes blackjack, craps, roulette, 3 Card Poker, Let it Ride, and the like. They also have a poker room.
The race track has live horse racing during warmer months, and offers simulcast betting on tracks all over the country. Next to the betting parlor is the casino’s 28 table poker room.
As for eats, you’ll find five restaurants here, not including the Starbucks and Krispy Kreme.
Harrah’s Philadelphia’s eight story parking garage provides free parking to guests. They also have a free shuttle with pickups through Philadelphia.
Address & Phone
777 Harrah’s Boulevard
Chester, PA 19013
Valley Forge Casino Resort
The smallest and least busy of the four Philadelphia-area casinos, Valley Forge Casino Resort is situated 21 miles northwest of downtown in King of Prussia.
The Valley Forge Casino Resort is 21 miles Northwest of downtown Philadelphia
This equates to between a 30 minute drive up to an hour and a half drive on Friday afternoons.
Valley Forge boasts 600 slot machines/video poker machines, and 50 of the standard casino table games.
They also have six restaurants, three bars, and an attached 485 room hotel.
Address & Phone
1160 1st Avenue
King of Prussia, PA. 19406
Other Casinos Near Philadelphia (in order of proximity from downtown)
* Delaware Park – 41 miles south, near Wilmington, Delaware.
This is always over a 45 minute drive and sometimes up to 2 hours.
* Sands Casino Bethlehem – 58 miles north.
It’s the second busiest casino in Pennsylvania, but would take you anywhere from an hour and ten minutes, up to a 3 hour drive (on a Friday afternoons) to experience it.
* Atlantic City casinos – 61 miles away, or a 1 to 2 hour drive.
Photos courtesy of each respective casino.