The first casino built in Philadelphia will become the newest member of the Rivers family, following a rebranding effort led by parent company Rush Street Gaming.
SugarHouse Casino opened its doors in 2010 to become the City of Brotherly Love’s first casino resort. When the Illinois-based Rush Street Gaming initially received a license to operate in Philadelphia, it chose the name SugarHouse to honor the construction site’s former occupant, Jack Frost Sugar Refinery.
But with Rush Street Gaming operating three other casinos bearing the Rivers brand – in Des Plaines, Illinois; Schenectady, New York; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – the company has decided to standardize its branding under the Rivers umbrella.
In a press release issued on June 12th to announce the switch from SugarHouse to Rivers, Rush Street Gaming’s chief executive officer Greg Carlin pointed to “unification” as the primary reason for making the move:
“Since receiving our casino license in 2006, gaming in Pennsylvania has evolved tremendously.
Keeping pace with the changing landscape has been paramount to our success.
Creating a unified brand is another example of how we’re anticipating and responding to the competitive market for gaming.”
Sports Betting Legalization in Other States Prompts Rebranding
After rival Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races became the first operator to open a retail sportsbook in Pennsylvania last November, SugarHouse followed up less than a month later as a second retail sportsbook in the Keystone State.
And on May 31st of this year, PlaySugarHouse.com launched as Pennsylvania’s first online/mobile sportsbook.
Operating under the Rush Street Interactive subsidiary, PlaySugarHouse.com made its debut in neighboring New Jersey in August of last year, partnering with Golden Nugget Atlantic City to use the latter’s iGaming license. Two months later, the SugarHouse Sportsbook online/mobile platform shifted its New Jersey sports betting license to Monmouth Park racetrack.
The site banked on Garden State gamblers’ knowledge of the SugarHouse brand, and through the first six months of 2019, that awareness has helped the Monmouth Park licensing stake its claim to third-place status in terms of online sports betting revenue.
But with sports betting legalization bills successfully passed in Illinois and New York, Rush Street Gaming wants to consolidate its online/mobile presence under a single brand recognized in those regions.
In a slideshow presentation provided to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB) on June 12th, the company outlined its motivations for bringing SugarHouse Casino into the Rivers Casino family:
“As gaming becomes a 360-degree experience – land-based, mobile, online – a unified brand for Rush Street’s PA properties will best serve the Commonwealth, host communities, guests and team members.
Our long-term plan is to establish continuity across Rush Street’s PA properties, sportsbooks, iGaming and guest rewards programs.”
The $15 million physical rebranding effort at the newly christened Rivers Casino Philadelphia is expected to be completed by the Fall of this year.
Rush Street Hopes to Have Bet Rivers Online / Mobile Platform in Four States
The existing PlaySugarHouse.com platforms offered in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will be rebranded as Bet Rivers later this year.
In Pennsylvania, the Rivers Casino Pittsburgh’s affiliated Bet Rivers online / mobile casino and sportsbook is also scheduled to launch this year, although an exact date has yet to be determined.
And with Governor J.B. Pritzker widely expected to sign Illinois’ recently approved sports betting legislation into law, Bet Rivers online / mobile wagering facilitated by Rivers Casino Des Plaines is inevitable.
When news broke that Illinois had joined the list of legal sports betting jurisdictions, Richard Schwartz – who serves as president of Rush Street Interactive – issued a statement pledging to bring the same level of service bettors in New Jersey and Pennsylvania currently enjoy to the company’s home state:
“Thanks to Governor Pritzker’s leadership, and the weekend overtime hours put in by the General Assembly, we are excited by the legalization of sports betting and the prospect of making history by bringing our innovative and award-winning mobile platform to Illinois.
Just this past week we made history in Pennsylvania for being the first to launch an online sportsbook.
We look forward to bringing the same top quality, award-winning products and services to players in Illinois where we are headquartered.”
Rush Street Gaming also hopes to offer Bet Rivers in New York via its Schenectady property, one of four commercial casinos in the Empire State approved to build an onsite brick and mortar sportsbook.
But while the land-based operation at Rivers Schenectady is a go, the General Assembly’s disappointing failure to approve a popular online/mobile bill last week ensures Bet Rivers won’t go online until 2022 at the earliest.