Introduction

Valley Forge Casino, located in King of Prussia, PA, just outside of Philadelphia, differs from most of the other Pennsylvania casinos by being one of two casinos licensed to operate in Pennsylvania in locations that were already existing hotel resorts. Because of their previous resort status, these casinos are subject to the following restrictions that don’t apply to the other Pennsylvania casinos, including those that now also promote themselves as resorts, having added a hotel after opening the casino:

  • Maximum of 600 slot machines and 50 table games (whereas other Pennsylvania casinos are allowed up to 5,000 slot machines)
  • Access to the casino is strictly limited to those who are guests of the resort or those who purchased a resort membership, are attending a conference or private function at the resort, or those who purchased $10 or more in resort amenities

The $165 million Valley Forge Casino opened to the public on March 31, 2012.

Resort overview

The property is situated at the busy intersection of Route 422 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The fastest and easiest way to get there from Center City Philadelphia is by car. However, the 125 bus also goes there. The bus ride takes about an hour.

Besides the casino, Valley Forge Casino Resort includes:

    • Two three-star hotels with 485 rooms and suites
    • State-of-the-art conference center
    • Seven dining establishments
    • Nightclub
    • Outdoor pool and beach area
    • Fitness center
    • Spa
    • On-site parking
    • Free wireless Internet
    • Free shuttle service to and from the King of Prussia Mall

Nearby attractions

The King of Prussia Mall contains more than 450 retail stores, boutiques, and restaurants, making it the largest shopping mall on the East Coast and the second-largest in the country. (Only the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN is larger.)

The resort is also a mere mile away from Valley Forge National Historic Park. In fact, critics objecting to the casino’s location claim that it detracts from the meaningfulness of the historic patriotic landmark. However, the surrounding community has been largely supportive of the casino.

Accommodations

Guests who wish to stay overnight can choose either the Casino Tower or the Radisson Hotel Valley Forge adjacent to the resort. Rooms are more reasonably priced than at many other hotels in the Philadelphia area and about a third of the price of rooms at Pennsylvania’s other resort casino, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington. But keep in mind that these are three-star hotels, not five-star hotels. Both hotels (but not the casino) are 100 percent nonsmoking. Note that the prices quoted below do not include added tax and resort fees.

Casino Tower

The Casino Tower consists of 160 deluxe, oversized guestrooms. The prices shown online for randomly selected dates start at $159/night. Depending on the type of room and when you book it, you might pay more, but finding suitable accommodations under $200/night should not be a problem. There is also a special Federal Government rate of only $124/night. Surprisingly, accommodations on Friday and Saturday nights do not appear to be any more expensive than on weeknights.

All of the rooms and suites offer the following amenities:.

  • One King or two Queen beds
  • Cable TV
  • Bathroom with soaking tub
  • Alarm clock
  • Coffeemaker
  • Hair dryer
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator
  • Free wireless Internet
  • Modem and modem jack
  • Free newspaper

If you book a Junior, King or Queen Suite, for an extra $25/night, you can get a rollaway.

Another option is the Shopping Spree package (including discount coupons and transportation to and from either the Premium Outlets Mall or the King of Prussia Mall), starting at $249/night.

Radisson Hotel

The Radisson Hotel Valley Forge consists of 325 rooms and suites, starting at $132/night, is a popular choice for business travelers. Amenities include all of the following:

  • One King or two Queen beds
  • 37” flat screen cable TV
  • Large work desk
  • Free high speed wireless Internet access
  • Coffeemaker
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator
  • In-room safe
  • Hair dryer
  • Large chair with ottoman

If you wish, you can upgrade to a Business Class Room or one of the high floor renovated guestrooms. Some additional amenities that come with the Business Class Rooms are:

  • Breakfast and drink coupons for two guests
  • Complimentary robes and slippers
  • Early check-in

The Radisson participates in the Club Carlson Hotel Rewards Program, which allows you to earn points for your stay. Frequent guests might earn enough points to qualify for complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, and even a night’s free stay.

Restaurants

Guests wishing to dine at Valley Forge Casino Resort have a choice of seven restaurants, including two from renowned chef Luke Palladino: an upscale steakhouse called LP Steak and an Italian eatery open weekends in the summer only called Franco Italian Kitchen. Other options for casual dining are Valley Tavern, American Grill, Asianoodle, and Italian Market, and a poolside club called Valley Beach open seasonally.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Compared to some of the other Pennsylvania casinos, where there is little, if anything, happening outside of the casino itself, at Valley Forge Casino Resort, it seems like there is never a dull moment. One of the highlights of this resort’s entertainment scene is the Valley Forge Music Fair featuring headline comedians and nationally known musical acts.

In addition, guests can enjoy Karaoke Fridays with Cisco Kid between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. at the Valley Tavern.

Valley Beach has a sandy beach, private cabanas, and an outdoor pool that is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Guests can enjoy poolside dining and drinks from a food truck and bar during the day and live entertainment Saturday nights.

Entrance to Valley Beach is free for overnight guests of the hotel. Others can purchase a day pass for $10 or a Beach Tag season pass. The latter can be purchased either at the door or through Ticketmaster.

Casino overview

Who can play in the casino?

Due to its special status as a resort casino, access to Valley Forge Casino is strictly limited to those who are overnight guests or members of the resort or who purchase either $10 or more in resort amenities or a $10 gift card. Hotel guests have casino access starting at the time they check in until 11:59 p.m. the day of departure. Non-hotel guests who purchased resort amenities or a gift card will need to show a receipt for their purchase in order to be granted a 24-hour casino access card. Many guests have indicated their annoyance with these policies, but those are the rules.

You may also purchase a three-month membership for $20 or an annual membership for a higher cost, entitling you and a guest to unlimited casino access for the designated period. Guests who do not have their own membership must be accompanied by a member to enter the casino; once in the casino, they are free to play any games they wish on their own.

As per state law, the minimum age to enter the casino and play is 21. This age requirement is strictly enforced. However, children are welcome to stay at the hotel. If a rollaway or crib is needed, be sure to include your request at the time of your reservation.

Security and fairness

All Pennsylvania land-based casinos, including the Valley Forge Casino, are licensed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). This agency is responsible not only for determining which games are permissible, the maximum number of each type, and rules and payouts, but also making sure that a safe and fair playing environment is maintained at all times.

As for the restriction of the casino to hotel guests and those who pay the access fee, as irritating as that might be, one good thing about it is that it keeps the riffraff away. That might not be the case at a casino where virtually any adult, player or not, can walk in and out freely.

Casino games

Valley Forge Casino is open 24/7. While smaller than the casinos you may be accustomed to playing in, including most of the other Pennsylvania casinos, Valley Forge has a total of 600 slot machines and 50 table games, the maximum permitted by law for a facility classified as a resort casino. There is no poker room.

Slots

A casino doesn’t need to have thousands of slots for players to find plenty of games to their liking, especially when they get to choose from a diverse collection from different manufacturers, as is the case at Valley Forge Casino. Whether your tastes run more towards the familiar favorites you have played before or if you are ready to try something brand new that might be even more exciting, this casino won’t disappoint.

Here are some of the most popular slots at Valley Forge Casino:

  • Bridesmaids
  • China Shores
  • Quick Hits Platinum
  • Quick Hits Triple Blazing Sevens
  • Wheel of Fortune Big Money
  • White Orchid
  • Roman Tribune
  • Cash Man – African Dusk
  • Tarzan
  • Treasures of Troy
  • Fire Light

Low return to player on slots

Unfortunately, the payouts are not at as a high of a rate as players hope. Penny machines, in particular, even when multiple coins are used, tend to have a lower return to player (RTP) than higher denomination machines. However, at Valley Forge Casino and, in fact, at the Pennsylvania casinos in general, the returns on the higher level slot machines are nothing to write home about either. The average RTP for all of the slots is only about 89 percent.

One of the reasons why the Pennsylvania casinos are not more generous when it comes to slot payouts is the relatively high 55 percent tax rate they pay, so they pass on the increased cost to their customers by tightening the machines. This is disappointing, but the PGCB set the minimum return on slots statewide at only 85 percent, so an 89 percent return is clearly within their guidelines.

The best advice for players is to keep your sessions at the slot machines short and after a win, if it looks like the machine is tightening up, leave a winner rather than continue to play.

Table games

When you feel like taking a break from the slots, table games are another option at this casino. In addition to video poker, you can choose from any of the following:

  • Blackjack
  • Super 4 Blackjack
  • Spanish 21
  • American roulette
  • Baccarat and mini baccarat
  • Three card poker
  • Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em
  • Pai gow and Pai gow poker
  • Bix Six wheel

The games are offered at a wide range of stakes. High-end players might want to check out the special high limit table games area located at the south end of the casino, offering four blackjack tables and three mini baccarat tables. The comfortable lounge setting also includes a bar serving premium-brand cocktails.

Roulette

The form of roulette that is offered at Valley Forge Casino is American roulette. This game has both a single and double zero. There is no indication that European roulette, a more favorable game to the player is also offered. The difference is reflected in the house edge (5.26 percent for American roulette vs. 2.71 percent for European roulette).

Blackjack

If you are going to play table games at Valley Forge Casino, blackjack is clearly your best bet. Since blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games worldwide, virtually every major casino offers it. And luckily for you, the Pennsylvania casinos offer some of the best blackjack games in the country.

An important difference between blackjack and most other casino games is both luck and skill come into play. In addition, depending on where you play, you are likely to encounter different sets of rules, which can make the game either more favorable or less favorable. Among the Pennsylvania casinos, too, some variations exist with regard to number of decks (six or eight), type of shuffle, and optional side bets. However, the basic rules stipulated by the PGCB are uniform. Here they are:

  • Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Doubling down permitted on any two cards
  • Doubling down after splits
  • Splits up to three hands (except aces)
  • Late surrender

Using correct basic strategy, the house edge on this game is only about .40 percent. Another nice feature, which those wishing to play for small stakes will appreciate, is that the blackjack rules at the lower limit tables are the same as for everyone else. Many casinos take advantage of low stakes players by instituting tougher rules, like blackjack paying 6:5 and the dealer hitting soft 17, just for them, but at Valley Forge Casino, you don’t have to worry about that.

Table limits and alternative blackjack games

You still need to be properly bankrolled to play. Come with the expectation of finding $10 minimum and up tables on weekdays and $15 minimum and up tables on weekends.

Another form of blackjack offered at this casino is Spanish 21. The basic strategy is different for this game, as the 10 cards are removed, but there are some extra bonuses. So if you are contemplating playing Spanish 21, be sure to familiarize yourself with it beforehand.

In addition to the standard blackjack bets, Valley Forge Casino offers its blackjack players the opportunity to make certain side bets. These bets may be fun to try once in a while, but keep in mind that they have a much higher house edge than standard blackjack bets, so you should refrain from making them regularly.

Match the Dealer side bet

If you bet on this option and either of your first two cards match the dealer’s upcard.

The winning payouts for six-deck games are:

  • one unsuited match: 4 to 1
  • two unsuited matches: 8 to 1
  • one suited match: 11 to 1
  • one unsuited and one suited match: 15 to 1
  • two suited matches: 22 to 1

The winning payouts for eight-deck games are:

  • one unsuited match: 3 to 1
  • two unsuited matches: 6 to 1
  • one suited match: 14 to 1
  • one unsuited and one suited match: 17 to 1
  • two suited matches: 28 to 1

Super 4 Progressive Blackjack

Valley Forge Resort Casino claims to be the only casino in the area offering this side bet. It is an alternative to the Insurance bet, where if the dealer has a blackjack, you break even on the hand. Here is how the optional $5 Super 4 blackjack bet works:

Ordinarily, when the dealer has a blackjack (unless you have one, too, or have taken insurance), it’s the last thing you want to see because your hand is an immediate loser. But for those who have made the Super 4 side bet, if the dealer has a blackjack, the players’ two cards are combined with the dealer’s blackjack hand to make a four card poker hand. The payouts for the bet are:

  • Diamond Royal Flush: Jackpot
  • Any other Royal Flush: $1,000
  • Three of a kind: $750
  • Straight: $350
  • Flush: $250
  • Two Pair: $150
  • All same color: $75
  • Any pair: $50
  • Any hand: $25
  • Dealer Ace up: $15

Valley Club player rewards program

Valley Forge Casino Resort offers both a player rewards program called Valley Club, which is free to join, and a resort membership program with additional privileges, which visitors must pay to join. All Valley Club members receive a card for tracking their play so they can be rewarded accordingly. When playing any slot game, insert the card into the machine, and when playing any table game, hand the card to the dealer.

Comp points based on play

The comp points you earn based on play can either be redeemed the same day or accumulated and used on a future date. They are valid towards purchases in all food and beverage outlets on the property and the Valley Shop and toward resort membership rewards. Once points are redeemed, it is final; the comp points cannot be re-added to your account. Unused points expire after 12 months if the player remains active, but after just six months if there is no activity. On top the earned comp points, additional comps and promotional offers based on play are issued at the casino management’s discretion.

Valley Club and Valley Elite

The Valley Club Player Rewards Program consists of two levels: Valley Club and Valley Elite. All Valley Club cardholders start at the Valley Club level, but are upgraded to Elite status upon earning 1,000 points in a calendar year. Elite membership expires on January 31 of the following year. In order to maintain Elite privileges, the player must continue the required level of play. In addition to all of the regular benefits of Valley Club membership, Valley Elite members receive all of the following enhanced benefits:

  • VIP hotel check-in and room upgrades
  • Early check-in and late checkout privileges
  • Personal casino host
  • Exclusive event invitations for player and guest
  • Priority line access throughout the property
  • Invitations to Valley Club Elite tier renewal events
  • Weekend getaway package
  • VIP designer gift offers
  • Premium beverages at Enclave Bar
  • 20,000 American Airline Advantage Miles

Resort membership

If you expect to be playing at Valley Forge Casino frequently, it would be worth your while to become a resort member. Players who sign up for both a Valley Club card resort membership are entitled to the following enhanced benefits even if they don’t attain Elite status:

  • Unlimited access to the casino for themselves and one guest for the duration of time for which the membership is valid
  • Free valet parking (which otherwise costs $10)
  • Opportunity to earn free slot play, hotel offers, tournament invitation, giveaways, and entertainment
  • Up-to-date information on all the important news, events and happenings at Valley Forge Casino Resort

Summary

Valley Forge Casino Resort is a nice place to visit either just for the day or evening or for an overnight stay. Its proximity to Center City Philadelphia as well as the world famous King of Prussia Shopping Mall and the Premium Outlets Mall, another major shopping mecca, makes it easy to combine a visit to the casino with other exciting activities. Those who need a place to spend the night have a choice of two moderately priced hotels. While the rooms are large and most guests should find them adequate, you are not paying for luxury accommodations, so don’t expect them. Some customers have complained about long waits to check in, the décor being dated, and the rooms in need of renovation.

Other common complaints on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor specifically relate to the casino. The $10 entrance fee is a turnoff to many visitors. Many players also find the casino too smoky and are disappointed with the slot payouts.

The best features that Valley Forge Casino Resort have to offer are a very good blackjack game and player rewards program, lots of fun promotions, and plenty for guests to do outside of the casino.

Valley Forge Casino Resort
1160 First Avenue
King of Prussia, PA 19406
1-610-354-8118
www.vfcasino.com