Philadelphia welcomed a brand new casino and hotel resort Thursday as the commercial gaming industry’s revenue remains unstable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Live! Casino and Hotel’s grand opening will continue through Thursday. The casino is located at 900 Packer Street near the city’s sports complex.
With more than 2000 slot machines and more than 100 tables, the casino plans to employ about 2,000 workers with a pay rate of at least $12 an hour.
Willie Brown Jr., a food runner at the new casino, is one of several new employees who previously worked for neighboring casinos.
“I feel grateful, most of all, and it’s just great working again,” Brown said. “I used to work at Rivers Casino, but I was furloughed due to the outbreak.”
Since the pandemic, a number of casinos, both in and surrounding the Philadelphia area, experienced decreases in revenue.
Rivers Casino Philadelphia, formerly known as the SugarHouse Casino, where Brown worked, lost almost 60% of its slot machine revenue in November 2020. The statewide slot revenue decreased by more than 30%, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Casinos in the tri-state area are not the only ones that have faced hardships during the pandemic. The American Gaming Association recorded a nearly 80% decrease in year-over-year revenue in the second quarter of 2020.
Bill Miller, the association’s president and CEO, expressed optimism in a recent press release.
“COVID-19 has undoubtedly posed the most difficult economic challenge the gaming industry has ever faced,” Miller said. “Yet, gaming’s record popularity prior to COVID-19, as well our resilience in the midst of such adversity, is evidence of the industry’s foundation for continued success as we emerge from the pandemic.”
With more than 500,000 square-feet of property, Live! has implemented thermal temperature screeners, masks and multiple sanitizing locations to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The casino’s Play it Safe Plan explained that hotel laundry and other linen are changed daily and cleansed based on CDC guidelines. The document also explained that slot machines are set to lock after each customer use, notifying staff to sanitize and restart the machine.
Areas that become congested with employee traffic have been stocked with more than 50 sanitizing stations. Employees also received COVID protocol training before returning to work.
While in-person gaming experienced reductions since November, internet casino gaming became a popular trend in commercial gaming.
PlayLive!, the casino’s i-gaming system, launched prior to the physical grand opening. The internet gaming company included classic slot machines, interactive table games, and gaming perks like deposit bonuses and free spins.
In 2020, I-Gaming surged by 519.06% from 2019. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported internet gaming revenue in November 2019 at $9,655,811. In November 2020, the revenue was $59,775,505.
Diana Cielesz, a Live! marketing representative, has been employed since December and said the casino has done a good job establishing and enforcing health guidelines.
“I am quite excited to work at Live!, even during COVID. A lot of guests are excited to hit a new spot in town, especially after they have been in their homes for so long during the pandemic,” Cielesz said. “Guests are having a good time, not only gaming but also lodging and dining out. Live! is creating a memorable experience for each guest whether they are there for gaming or another experience.”