Within the next two years, Pennsylvania expects to see the opening of five casinos, including two waterfront casinos in Philadelphia, less than 60 miles from the East Coast’s premiere gambling destination of Atlantic City, N.J.

Late last month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved 11 applications for slot-machine gaming licenses, including five for the Commonwealth’s first stand-alone casinos. The five are:

  • The Mount Airy Casino in at the Mount Airy Resort in Paradise Township in the Poconos. It will have 5,000 slot machines and plans to open in November of this year.
  • HSP Gaming’s SugarHouse Casino, which will be along the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Expected to open in April 2008, it will feature 3,000 slot machines.
  • Philadelphia Entertainment’s Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia, located in south Philadelphia and operated by Foxwoods Development. Like the SugarHouse Casino, it will have 3,000 slot machines, and it plans to open in November 2008.
  • The PTIG Gaming Casino in Pittsburgh, situated between Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers) and the Carnegie Science Center. With 5,000 slot machines, it’s expected to open in March 2008.
  • The Sands Bethworks Casino, at the former Bethlehem Steel Co. plant in Bethlehem. It will have 5,000 slot machines and should open in July 2008.

State gambling regulators turned down several other casino proposals, including the most controversial proposal—a casino near the site of the country’s most famous battlefield. The rejected proposal called for the construction of a casino as part of a $350 million casino, hotel, and spa development in Gettysburg, just a mile from the border of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The Gaming Control Board also rejected a bid by Donald Trump to build a casino in north Philadelphia.

With two casinos set to open in Philadelphia in 2008, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau is looking to augment its meetings and conventions marketing campaign, “Philadelphia, Where You’re at Liberty to Meet.” According to Philadelphia CVB spokeswoman Danielle Cohn, a thread to that marketing campaign will be built around the catchphrase, “Philadelphia, Where High Stakes Meet Cheese Steaks.”

“We just want to make sure that meeting planners know we’ll have casinos,” said Cohn. “They’ll offer a new nighttime entertainment alternative for people coming to Philadelphia for conventions, and we want to promote it as an asset.”