The Casino File: Atlantic City casinos not letting pandemic infect future plans; Live! Pittsburgh opens

Despite the current uncertainties, the gaming industries in Atlantic City — and Pennsylvania — are clearly betting on better days ahead
Live! Casino Pittsburgh cuts the ribbon on their new casino
Live! Casino Pittsburgh cuts the ribbon on their new casino@cordishco on Twitter

Because COVID-19’s current surge shows no sign of abating in the foreseeable future, it’s difficult to predict whether or not casinos in Atlantic City and Pennsylvania will remain open. As you read this, only one gambling den in the two states — Rivers Philadelphia — has shut down per an official city order, but that could change at any moment. However, the industry doesn’t appear to be letting the current dire situation douse optimism that better days are on the horizon. In Atlantic City, two new developments certainly bear out that thinking.

Resorts Casino-Hotel has announced a partnership with the Dougherty family, which has been feeding people in the city for almost 125 years. The clan, which opened Dock’s Oyster House in 1897, and today also owns another AyCee culinary landmark, The Knife & Fork Inn, will open a restaurant inside the town’s oldest legal casino next year.

“This concept will provide a dining experience to our valued guests that is very unique from what we currently offer and will be a perfect addition to Resorts’ winning amenities,” said Resorts CEO and President Mark Giannantonio in a release announcing the deal.

“The Dougherty family is known for their commitment to quality and service and operate under the highest standards. Their strong ties in the community and long history in Atlantic City are perfect complements to Resorts, itself one of the most historic properties in the city. We could not be happier to partner with such a well-respected restaurateur and look forward to opening in the spring of 2021.”

Few details about the concept were disclosed in the release, which only described an outlet “that features a classic steakhouse, raw bar and live entertainment.”

Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of where the eatery will be located. But the giveaway is likely in the phrase “classic steakhouse.” For more than a decade, that flag has been flown by Gallagher’s Steak House, an outpost of the venerable Manhattan carnivorium. Because it’s unlikely that any casino—especially one as small as Resorts—would house two steak houses, logic appears to dictate the Dougherty operation will replace Gallagher’s.

Bally’s sale closes

The other big news along the Boardwalk this week was Wednesday’s closing of the sale of Bally’s Atlantic City by Caesars Entertainment Inc. to what was Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc. and is now called Bally’s Corp.

That means Rhode Island-based Bally’s can embark on the massive rehab project it has promised for the midtown gaming hall. The plans, as described here by Bally’s exec Phil Juliano in a September interview with this column, pretty much cover every inch of the 41-year-old hotel-casino complex.

In Pennsylvania

Live! ready to go live

Also looking past the pandemic is Live! Casino Pittsburgh (which is actually located in a shopping mall in suburban Greensburg, Pa). The $150 million facility built by Baltimore-based Cordish Companies will officially welcome guests beginning Nov. 24. And, of course, its sister property, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia is scheduled to open in South Philly sometime in the first quarter of 2021.

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