Live! Casino Pittsburgh has been through its share of adversity just two years into existence.
The mini-casino in Pittsburgh thrived even while opening during a pandemic and has since added new amenities to stay ahead of the curve.
PlayPennyslvania spoke with General Manager Sean Sullivan about Live! Casino Pittsburgh’s journey two years in.
Live! Casino Pittsburgh valued safety during pandemic
Opening a casino is no easy task. Years of planning, construction and marketing efforts are in full force for a successful opening.
Live! Pittsburgh had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 17, 2020, but shut down days later until early January 2021. Live! Casino Pittsburgh launched its “Play It Safe” campaign to ensure the safety and well-being of customers and employees.
Upon re-opening, Live! Casino Pittsburgh bought $300,000 worth of plexiglass to put between every single seat in the casino, including slots, table games and restaurant seats.
“I’ve been doing this 43 years in casinos and I’ve never been through anything as strange as COVID,” Sullivan said.
The casino also had strict masking policies and temperature checks at the door for customers and employees. Sullivan said that Live! Pittsburgh had a great first year with all things considered.
“To open in the middle of COVID was daunting news. I thought it would be more difficult to have a good start but we had a great start. We attribute that to the Westmoreland community. They didn’t resign to anxiety or fear and followed the protocols.”
Changes in customer behavior at PA casinos
As Live! Casino Pittsburgh opened in November 2020, Sullivan explained that the casino got lots of “lookie-loos” early on. A “lookie-loo” is someone who is stopping in to visit the new property, but won’t necessarily spend much money.
Sullivan told PlayPennsylvania in January that a new property is likely to face more volume, but you get less average value per customer. Now that Live! Pittsburgh is more than two years in, the average value per customer is starting to shift.
“As time moves forward, we’re seeing a core audience now,” Sullivan said. “And what you see is the average investment in entertainment spend by the customer has gone up, but the number of customers slightly goes down.”
Live! Casino Pittsburgh is seeing its loyal guests gambling more with larger budgets. It plans to continue to grow its main audience with reward programs such as gifts, promotions and free play.
Events such as outdoor rodeos, Summerfest and car shows at Live! Casino Pittsburgh reach a larger pool of people that aren’t considered part of the main crowd, but hope they achieve that status with strategic marketing efforts.
Added features and amenities at Live! Casino Pittsburgh
Live! Casino Pittsburgh cost $150 million to build and with that, is always looking to enhance the experience of customers and employees. Sullivan said that the casino spent around $7 million in enhancements since opening.
The biggest of which came in July 2022, when Live! Casino Pittsburgh opened The Venue Live! It’s a 7,000 square-foot room used for weddings, private parties and entertainment events. The room can host an event of up to 850 people or as few as 50.
Sullivan also mentioned other new additions to Live! Casino Pittsburgh:
- $750,000 on new slot machines
- $110,000 for a more efficient point-of-sale system for restaurants
- $60,000 for ID verification system
Big enhancements are coming in 2023, as well. Sullivan noted Live! Casino Pittsburgh is looking to enhance slot machines even more, the FanDuel PA Sportsbook viewing options, poker room and high-limit experience.
Live! Casino properties strategically placed
The Cordish Companies, which also owns Live! Casino Philadelphia and Live! Casino Maryland, developed their properties strategically.
Live! Casino Philadelphia is located in South Philadelphia’s Stadium District, walking distance from the Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field. It has generated tons of foot traffic that has resulted in huge handle numbers.
Live! Casino Pittsburgh and Live! Casino Maryland are connected to a local mall. Customers can shop in the mall and enter the casino without having to go back outside.
The second floor of Live! Casino Pittsburgh is for customers of all ages up until 9 p.m. It is where Sports & Social Steel City is located, and there are tons of arcade games for children. Games include:
- Air hockey
- Golf and football simulators
“The Cordish family had experience and they said we’re doing pretty well with this mall attachment in our Maryland location, let’s do that here [in Pittsburgh],” Sullivan said. “They plugged us right into parking, parking garages and mall access. When you tell people where you are, you say you’re at the Westmoreland Mall.”
Sullivan said that Live! Casino Pittsburgh hosts children’s birthday parties on the second floor, away from any gambling machines. There are several ways families with children can enter the arcade area without coming in contact with the gaming floor.
Live! Casino Pittsburgh is one of the only casinos that has activities for kids. PA has had an issue with adults leaving kids unattended at PA casinos. Wind Creek Bethlehem is the only other casino in PA with activities for children.
Live! Casino Pittsburgh has built its brand on trust, starting with a strong response to the pandemic, and has created an environment for those of all ages.