Valley Forge casino set to open March 31st

February 28, 2012 12:30:44 PM PST
Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on Pennsylvania's 11th slot-machine casino, set to open next month at a convention center just outside Valley Forge National Historical Park.

The sounds of drills, power lifts and hammers filled the air at the still-under-construction casino Tuesday, when the casino's operators gave tours of the new facility. That cacophony, however, will soon give way to the cha-ching of coins and the whirr of slot machines when the casino fully opens for business on March 31 with 600 slots and 50 table games.

The scheduled opening comes as competition for gamblers is growing in the suburban Philadelphia market, which already has the Parx Casino in Bensalem, SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack in Chester. By law, Pennsylvania could one day be home to 14 casinos.

But Saverio "Sal" Scheri III, president and CEO of Valley Forge Casino Resort, said he thinks his facility has the amenities to succeed in the growing suburban Philadelphia market.

"We want to try to create an experience here," said Scheri, who led preview tours of the casino Tuesday. "We don't want to just be another casino in southeastern Pennsylvania."

The Valley Forge casino, which is part of a convention center not far from where George Washington once camped with his Continental Army soldiers, will also feature amenities such as bars, restaurants, a nightclub and performance and banquet space. It will bring about 645 full-time jobs, Scheri said.

The facility still has plenty of work to be done before next month's opening, which will follow a series of test nights. Right now, workers are still calibrating machines, finishing up construction and getting the space ready.

Bob Genereaux, 58, a worker with Konami gaming, was doing work on slot machines Tuesday, calibrating them and getting them set up so they'll be ready to play come opening night. As he moved from machine to machine, he said he expects to be busy setting up many more machines in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, dealers such as Ashley Graves, who has worked at Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., and Parx Casino in Bensalem, are getting ready to preside over table games at Valley Forge.

Scheri said he hopes the overall experience at Valley Forge helps persuade people to stay and to become regulars, especially in a densely populated region that has both the history of Valley Forge and the shopping of the King of Prussia Mall nearby.

"We want people to stay here," he said. "We really see ourselves as something different from Atlantic City."