Like an anxious Black Friday shopper, Frank Wheeler arrived at SugarHouse Casino at 8 a.m. on Thursday in anticipation of the grand opening. Five hours later, he streamed in with thousands of excited patrons to see Philadelphia’s first casino.
“It’s good, I like it,” the Wynnefield resident said as he puffed on a cigar at one of several slot machines where smoking is allowed.
Customers swarmed all 1,600 slot machines and 40 table games, frustrating those who couldn’t find a spot. Lower Northeast resident Janice Hayes skipped work to come with her fiance.
“We go to Parx Casino a lot. This one is a lot closer, so we might be coming here,” she said.
Not everything went smoothly. Eva Smith had to stop playing the Triple Stars slot machine after it malfunctioned.
“I put $50 in there. I played some and got a $36 balance and it wouldn’t work,” she said as she watched a technician work.
Mary Moleski and her mother, Bridget Christopher, of the Northeast, came to be a part of history. Moleski’s father worked at an industrial building on Delaware Avenue for 38 years, long before gaming came to the waterfront.
“I think it’s good for the area [economically] and to build it up,” Moleski said.