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, with another one on the way (more on that below).
One of these casinos, Rivers Casino, 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.
Casinos in Philadelphia
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.
Here’s a brief look at the four area casinos:
Philadelphia Casinos Map
(The red star is Rivers Casino Philadelphia, Black = Harrah’s Philadelphia. Purple is the Parx Casino while the brown star is Valley Forge Casino Resort)
Rivers Casino Philadelphia
(Red star on map)
Opened in 2010, and formerly the Sugarhouse Casino, Rivers Casino Philadelphia is the only casino located right in Philadelphia. As such it gets 4 million visitors a year!
Located on the banks of the Delaware River, it’s just 1.5 miles northeast of downtown, in the Fishtown neighborhood.
Located on the site of a former sugar refinery, Rivers Casinos Philadelphia has just under 1,900 slots and video poker machines.
The 103 table games include 3-card poker, Spanish 21, Baccarat, mini-baccarat, and EZ baccarat, Pai Gow tiles, EZ Pai Gow Poker, High Card Flush, and several other carnival games.
Of course, all the usual favorites are here, like blackjack, and roulette. The craps games offer the fun Fire bet side bet, which doesn’t have great player odds, but is an incredible rush (and payout), when hit. Another nice feature (this time player-friendly), is the fact that when you make a “buy” bet, you only pay the commission if it hits.
Rivers Philadelphia also has two different stadium gaming areas. The blackjack in one of these stadium gaming areas has just $5 minimum bet.
(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. You TV poker fans may recognize the room from the numerous episodes of “Poker Night in America” that have been filmed here.
It’s also home to Philadelphia’s first sportsbook. Or should I say, first legal sportsbook. The BetRivers Sportsbook, built at a cost of $5 million, has seating for 115. The 5,700 foot floor boasts eight different 80-inch TV screens, along with a monster 56 1/2 foot long screen. There’s six in-person betting windows, and 22 additional betting kiosks. Mobile sports betting (and casino games) are available on their BetRivers app.
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, including Lou’s Pizza, Jack’s Bar & Grill, the Coffee Spot, the popular Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chophouse, a branch of the world famous Geno’s Steaks, Mian, and The Marketplace.
The 22 acre parcel that Rivers Casino sits on includes a large seven story parking garage along with plenty of uncovered parking. Parking is free. And while some complain about the casino being pretty smoky, they do have some non-smoking areas.
Address, Phone & Website
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Website: Rivers Casino Philadelphia
In terms of gaming revenue Parx is the busiest casino not only in Philadelphia, but the entire state of Pennsylvania, per figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
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 3,200 slot/video machines total.
You’ll find 188 table games here. In addition to the standard table games such as craps and blackjack, they offer Pai Gow tiles, Baccarat, Four-card Poker and a lot of other carnival games, some stadium-style blackjack games.
The new 7,400 square foot sportsbook cost $10 million to build and features massive screens and 150 comfy recliners.
A $50 million expansion in 2017 included a brand new 48 table poker room, which includes the 3-table high-limit room.
The main Parx Casino has 8 different restaurants, including the popular Chickie’s & Pete’s sports bar, the beautiful and open Beer Garden, and the Liberty Bell Gastropub. There’s also the Paddock Grill at Parx East.
In addition to bars and a club, there’s also a 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 Rivers Casino, Parx does not have a hotel attached to the casino.
Address, Phone & Website
Bensalem, PA 19020
Website: Parx Casino
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino
Formerly called Harrah’s Chester, this casino is 18 miles southwest of Philadelphia’s city center.
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.
The lineup of their 119 table games includes blackjack, craps, roulette, 3 Card Poker, Fortune Asia Poker, Let it Ride, and the like. The craps game has the All Tall, All Small prop bets.
There’s even a selection of $5 tables, every day (per their website). They also have stadium betting (roulette and blackjack), and a live poker room.
The sportsbook, called “The Book at Harrah’s” boasts lounge seating with views from 45 big-screen TVs.
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, including an Italian Steakhouse, The Philly Steak Shack, and Guy Fieri’s Philly Kitchen & Bar. There’s also a 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 & Website
Chester, PA 19013
Website: Harrah’s Philadelphia
Valley Forge Casino Resort (Brown star)
The smallest and least busy of the four Philadelphia-area casinos, Valley Forge Casino Resort is situated 21 miles northwest of downtown Philly in King of Prussia – just two miles from the massive King of Prussia Mall, if you’re looking for another place to drop your money.
This equates to between a 30 minute drive up to an hour and a half drive on Friday afternoons.
After a recent $40 million dollar expansion, Valley Forge now boasts 850 slot machines/video poker machines, and 45 of the standard casino table games.
The new 1,800 square foot FanDuel Sports Book has 7 betting windows and 27 big screen TVs.
They also have six restaurants, (including a steakhouse, and an Asian noodle restaurant), a Dunkin Donuts, three bars, and an attached 485 room hotel.
Address & Phone
King of Prussia, PA. 19406
New Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia
Construction is in full force on the $600 million dollar Live! Hotel & Casino in South Philadelphia, just north of Citizen’s Bank Park.
The casino owners closed on land in January of 2018.
The large resort, (complete with over 200 hotel rooms), will have 2,000 slot machines, 150 table games, entertainment venues, restaurants, a sportsbook, poker room, and more.
The casino is expected to open in December 2020, at which time, this will be a great place to get a last minute Eagles, 76’ers, or Phillies bet placed before walking the short distance to the game.
Other Casinos Near Philadelphia (in order of proximity from downtown)
* Delaware Park Racetrack & Casino – 41 miles south, near Wilmington, Delaware.
This is always over a 45 minute drive and sometimes up to 2 hours.
* Wind Creek 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.
By Steve Beauregard. Photos courtesy VisitPhilly.com and each respective casino. Rendering of the new Live! Casinos taken from Live! Casino’s media center page.