WORTH REPEATING: The Embiggening Of Sugarhouse


INGA SAFFRON: Because of its diminutive size, Sugarhouse’s damage to the waterfront may appear minimal now. But the owners are already wrapping up an expansion plan that will triple its footprint to include more slots and tables, a concert venue, and banquet hall, as well as a 74-foot-tall garage for more than 3,000 cars. SugarHouse will look a lot less benign when its facade is four blocks long instead of merely two. And even after the garage replaces the surface parking lots, the big gap between the casino’s front door and the street will remain. Although SugarHouse is the region’s first casino located in a dense city, its approach is no different from that of it predecessors, Harrah’s Chester or Bensalem’s Parx. From the outside, SugarHouse does represent a notch up in quality. But veteran gamblers are unlikely to be impressed by the cramped, 45,000-square-foot gaming hall, which is packed to the walls with 1,600 slot machines and 40 table games. Those table games were a last-minute addition, approved just this year by the legislature. As a result, the interior, designed by Floss Barber, is so crowded that you practically bump into a blinking bandit two strides past the front door. SugarHouse didn’t waste an inch of the premises on graciousness, and that detracts from the potential fun that an occasional casino visit might offer. Parx, which has nearly triple the space, at least makes an effort to create a sexy nightclub scene with its circular bar, performance stage, and dance floor. At SugarHouse, even the bar surfaces are embedded with slot machines. MORE

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