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A sneak peek at Philly's new Live! Casino
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A sneak peek at Philly's new Live! Casino

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The gambling scene in Philadelphia just got more exciting – and competitive – in a big way.

I had the privilege to get a sneak peak of Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, and I can tell you that it absolutely lives up to the lofty expectations set by its ownership – The Cordish Companies – as the premier Philadelphia-area casino.

Like its countertop Live! Property in Maryland, Live! Philadelphia impresses in every way. It’s classy, chic, modern and full of the great restaurants and amenities you would expect from a brand-new, $700 million property.

“We are beyond excited to go Live! in Philadelphia and bring this world-class gaming and entertainment destination to the heart of the Stadium District,” says Joe Billhimer, Executive Vice President, Cordish Gaming Group. “What we have created here is unrivaled anywhere in the country. Sports fans, foodies, gaming enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a night of fun and excitement only has to make one stop to experience it all.”

If location, location, location is everything, than Live! Philadelphia has that in the bag. Located right near Citizens Bank Park on Packer Avenue, Live! Philadelphia will cash in on its convenient location right off the Walt Whitman Bridge and in walking distance from every major sporting and concert event at Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center and Lincoln Financial Field.

Although it is half the size of its Maryland counterpart, Live! Philadelphia features 510,000 square feet with more than 2,100 slot machines, 121 table games and 29-table poker room plus a spectacular FanDuel Sportsbook and adjacent lounge.

In comparison to Atlantic City, its table games and slot offerings are more than most A.C. properties, but it only features 208 rooms and lacks some of the amenities most Atlantic City casinos offer, like a spa, concert venue, dance club, number of restaurants including lack of buffet, and view of the ocean.

That said, Live! Philadelphia is absolutely going to kill it. The gorgeous, red-hued casino floor features state-of-the-art machines with a spectacular Center Bar serving as the casino’s hub of action, where people will watch games, gamble, eat and even watch live music.

The FanDuel Sportsbook features a small area with recliner seating — good luck getting a seat in a sports-crazy town like Philly — but the adjacent Sports & Social Philly lounge is where most of the sporting action will take place. Featuring a 52-foot LED video wall, 24 televisions, a state-of-the-art sound and visual system plus elevated sports fare and great beer and cocktail list, Hustle has all of the makings to be the go-to sports bar experience in Philadelphia.

Of course, Live! Philadelphia is full of promising culinary experiences. The 10th Street Market will be the casino’s version of a food court with local favorites including Lorenzo and Sons Pizza, Sang Kee Noodle Bar & Kitchen, Termini Brothers Bakery, Morty’s Deli, Lucky’s Liquor and two venues from celebrity chef Guy Fieri: Guy’s Burger Joint and Guy Fieri’s Taco Joint, two concepts Atlantic City does not have. All of these experiences are still under construction.

The two most promising foodie experiences are Luk Fu, an Asian concept in a space designed like an upscale Asian street market; and The Prime Rib, the well-known, Zagat-rated restaurant that Live! Philadelphia moved from the Warwick Hotel in Rittenhouse to serve as the centerpiece steakhouse that will also offer fresh seafood and stylized bar with creative cocktails.

The 208 rooms span 12 floors and are absolutely stunning, particularly the penthouse suites. All of the rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows and pristine white motifs with wood accents. Those lucky enough to get a stadium view will be able to look into Citizens Bank Park, but the action will be too far away to really see what’s going on. Nonetheless, it’s a cool view.

High rollers will also delight in the stunning high-end slot and table games lounges, which rival most Atlantic City spaces.

There is also a 15,000-square-foot Event Center for special events and meetings to accommodate up to 1,000 guests. Parking is also very convenient with an attached multi-level structure plus street-level parking in the Phillies lots when games are not in session. Live! Philadelphia will always have some street level parking on 10th Street and Packer Avenue.

The casino is set to open to Live! Rewards Club members 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, and to the general public 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11. Live! Philadelphia is also accepting reservations for its rooms, which will open Saturday, Jan. 23. Live! Rewards Club members can make Preview Day reservations at LivePhillyRSVP.com. The main website is Philadelphia.LiveCasinoHotel.com, or call 267-682-7300.

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