On April 12, 2018, Rush Street Gaming announced that Wendy Hamilton is stepping down from her role as general manager of SugarHouse Casino this spring.
Hamilton joined Rush Street Gaming, the owner, and operator of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania casino in 2010. During her time at the property, Hamilton managed the $164 million expansion of the gaming property. During her tenure, she turned it into a desirable destination.
“It’s been the ride of a lifetime,” said Hamilton, in a written statement. “From a vacant brownfield to a 260,000-square-foot gaming and entertainment venue, hosting 4 million visitors annually—not to mention hands down, THE BEST team of 1,500 rock star employees—we’ve come a long way, baby.”
SugarHouse Casino under Hamilton’s rule
SugarHouse Casino opened its doors on September 23, 2010, with Hamilton at the helm of a team she built from the ground up. During her tenure, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), SugarHouse Casino saw a 58-percent increase in monthly revenue from slot machines and table games.
In 2016, the expansion project she managed opened. It added to the casino:
- An additional 152,000 square feet of space
- The first Poker Night in America 28-table poker room
- 289 slot machines and 44 table games
- The Event Center, a 30,000 square foot multi-purpose event space
- Several new restaurants, including Geno’s Steaks, Tacconelli’s Pizzeria and Saxbys Coffee
- A parking garage
“This team and this property have performed remarkably well in a difficult competitive environment,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t get any better than what I’ve been part of here.”
A storied career in the gaming industry
Hamilton is well-respected in the industry earning many awards for her leadership and commitment to her team and the local community.
This year, Hamilton received the 2018 Paradigm Award from the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. The award honors women for their commitment to the Philadelphia community and their professional achievements.
Last year, The Philadelphia Inquirer named Hamilton an Emerging Icon. Again, it was her leadership and focus on community that earned her the award and additional awards from the Police Athletic League, SmartCEO and local and national press.
“Wendy is one of our region’s most influential figures and represents our community of outstanding business leaders,” said Chamber President and CEO Rob Wonderling to Business Wire. “She has paved the way for women in business as a successful leader of SugarHouse Casino, both regionally and nationally.
It was not always a rosy picture though. Hamilton admits to leaving a job she didn’t expect to leave and learning a big lesson along the way.
It goes without saying when you run a large company, firings will happen. Hamilton’s lesson from her unexpected departure is that it should never be a surprise like it was for her.
“I don’t think I ever took lightly what it meant to take away someone’s employment, but when it happens to you, you feel it more deeply,” said Hamilton to The Inquirer. “You realize exactly how grave it is to separate someone from the means by which they support their family. It should never come as a surprise.”
Undoubtedly, it was this lesson that shaped how she leads her team, which garnered the awards listed above.
SugarHouse without Hamilton
Hamilton is a consistent, active, and tremendous supporter of the Philadelphia community. Greg Carlin, Rush Street Gaming co-founder and SugarHouse CEO has promised a continued commitment to the community that has shown considerable support for the property.
As Pennsylvania expands gaming in the state with mini-casino auctions, online gaming, and more, SugarHouse is well-positioned to broaden its offerings. There is speculation that SugarHouse will venture into online gaming in PA when it launches sometime later this year.
“Wendy was the driving force behind Philly’s casino for eight years. She built an outstanding team and unmatched workplace culture,” Carlin said. “Her leadership has been genuine, and her promotion of our brand has been passionate. She’s one in a million, and we wish her all the best.”
Hamilton keeping her plans close to the vest
Hamilton will remain in her position at the casino until her replacement is in place. Beyond that, she hasn’t shared her plans for life after SugarHouse with the public.
“Building dynamic workplace cultures to accomplish complex business objectives is my forte,” said Hamilton. “Life is short, and I’ve got lots left to explore.”
Let the exploration begin.