Sugarhouse Casino

Although it was originally granted a casino license back in 2006, Sugarhouse Casino didn’t officially open until September 2010 mainly due to the red tape that comes along with being the first casino opened in Philadelphia. Since its grand opening, Sugarhouse isn’t exactly doing as well as anticipated. Their total slots revenue over the past 4 months has averaged less than half of what was previously projected back in May, leading many to second guess plans of building another casino on the Delaware waterfront ( Their current positioning strategy relies heavily on the fact that they’re the only casino located in Philadelphia. They’re open 24/7, easily accessible through public transportation, and are relatively close to various bars and restaurants in Philadelphia. They have also just recently been granted permission to add 14 more table games, which shows they’re catering to a younger crowd who prefer table games to traditional slots.

Missed Opportunities

Being located right on the Delaware waterfront, Sugarhouse has the potential to be much classier than it is. Unfortunately, they missed the mark. Not only do they not take advantage of their location, their restaurants feature a lack of variety that’s sure to disappoint. Although they feature occasional live music at The Refinery (the most popular of their 3 eateries), there’s no talk of a dance floor or of a serious nightlife scene inside the casino. Compared to other casinos, Sugarhouse is small and less glamorous and is in serious need of an image reconstruction already.

Brand Challenges

Whereas places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City have become tourist destinations for their entertainment value as well as their casinos, this is not the case for Philadelphia. The economy has helped keep local people grounded and has prevented them from going to Sugarhouse. Many tourists into Philadelphia visit primarily for historical sites, as well as business traveling. The fact is that people who’re coming to Philadelphia aren’t coming to gamble, and those who live here don’t have the expendable income to waste on gambling. Furthermore, competition from Parx and Harrah’s Chester has given the people options. Both are located only about 15 miles away from Sugarhouse in opposite directions, have racetrack gambling as well, and Parx already has a reputation for being classier than Sugarhouse.

Competitive Analysis

Parx Casino

Not only are Parx and Harrah’s Chester the biggest competitors to Sugarhouse physically, but they also have superior websites as well. The Parx website is highly interactive, with plenty of fun links and high quality graphics. There’re literally over 30 different links on the Parx page for dining, slots, table games, poker rooms, racing, entertainment, and nightlife.

Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack

Although it’s not on the same level, the Harrah’s page similarly features many of the same links that Parx does. However, what they lack in creativity on their web page when compared to Parx, they make up by having Facebook, Twitter, and Mobile App links all on their page. Also, their page is easy to navigate and is user friendly.
Sugarhouse, when compared to the Parx and Harrah’s websites, doesn’t even come close. Sugarhouse literally has about 6 different navigation tabs on their website, each one more bland than the next. Even the fact that they advertise their Facebook on their homepage, there’s no real redeeming qualities.

Online and Offline Advertising Presence

The only advertisements I’ve ever seen for Sugarhouse have been mainly print ads in newspapers, as well as the occasional billboard ad. Being the only casino in Philadelphia, my guess would be that Sugarhouse doesn’t believe that they really need to advertise. Their name has been in the news for more than 5 years before they were even opened, so odds are they believe that they’re already first in the mind of the public. Since they’re revenues are nowhere near where projected back in May, expect to see Sugarhouse doing more advertising in the next few months.


Possible Fixes

Sugarhouse needs to establish itself as not just the only place to go gambling in the Philadelphia area, but as also a hip and cool place to be. A serious overhaul of the website would be a great start. The website needs to be fun to draw people in and keep them there. A new ad campaign could follow to show that Sugarhouse is the place to be. Renovations to the actual casino certainly wouldn’t hurt either. There needs to be some serious excitement to contend with places like Parx or even Atlantic City; add a new restaurant with a dance floor and get some serious buzz over the new image. If they’re going after a younger audience, create a Sugarhouse App and have Twitter and Facebook pages talk about what going on at Sugarhouse. The idea should be that Sugarhouse is an exciting and thrilling place to be, not you’re run of the mill slots parlor.