Philadelphia native Eleanor Munafo, 94, was the first person to play a slot machine at at the Valley Forge Resort Casino that opened Saturday in King of Prussia. In 1939, Munafo was the 1 millionth visitor to the New York World’s Fair.
Munafo got the action started at the $150-million gambling hall that will feature seven restaurants, plus bars and nightclub.
Valley Forge lays claim to being the immediate Philadelphia area’s only full-amenity gaming resort, with 486 guest rooms and suites. Plus, there’s an conference center with 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art exhibit, meeting, conference and banquet facilities.
“We expected to draw both people who are local to the casino and people who want to stay here for a while,” said Saverio “Sal” Scheri III, president and CEO of the casino. “We think it’ll be about fifty-fifty.”
The Valley Forge casino has a décor that’s light and bright. Orange and yellow are dominant colors with a carpet of red, blue and beige. Table felts are red in the main part of the casino and beige in the high-limit area.
Gamblers should expect the usual mix of table games and slots, and it is also likely that, at least in the beginning, bet-limits on tables will be relatively high, probably in the range of $15 and up.
The type of license under which Valley Forge operates limits its gaming capacity to 50 tables and 600 slots. There is no poker room, although the casino is allowed to have one day a month when it can increase its tables by 30 percent to accommodate a tournament event, typically poker or blackjack.
Also unique to Valley Forge among local casinos is the access rules it must follow.
Guests of the hotel and those attending conferences and other events at the convention center have access to the casino floor.
And there are other ways to gain admittance.
One is, in practice, a day pass. Anyone who spends $10 at a restaurant, bar or retail store receives a pass that allows them into the casino for that day. Guests can purchase a $10 gift card at a restaurant and gamble, then eat later.
However, the casino is also marketing memberships for three-month and one-year periods. A member and a guest have access to the casino for as long as the membership runs. There’s even a guest services desk at the entrance to the Radisson to let folks know how it works.
The casino has built in enough value to the memberships that most folks who visit the casino even a few times a year will find it worthwhile.
For instance, a one-year dining membership is $59 and it includes one free meal plus 10 percent off all dining checks. And a one-year entertainment membership is $69 and entitles the member to a free admission to a headline show, no cover charge to get into the casino nightclub, Seven, and 10 percent discounts on headline acts. Three-month memberships are $20 for dining and $30 for entertainment.
Valley Forge has attempted to take the extra step in elevating the amenities that are considered routine for a casino. Its casual dining area just off the casino floor may resemble a food court, but the casino is referring to the three eateries as “micro-restaurants”—Italian, American and Asian—and has hired accomplished chefs to run each.
The chef who operates the Asianoodle restaurant had previously been an executive chef at the Philadelphia area’s famous Susanna Foo’s.
The Asianoodle features gourmet noodle soups, dumplings and sushi. The Italian restaurant has tasty, fresh-ingredient pizza and strombolis. And the American Grill specializes in double-patty burgers.
Helping to set a vibrant tone in Seven, the DJ nightspot, are the casino’s Valley Girls who serve cocktails and make sure that guests paying for bottle service in the room’s comfy booths have whatever they need.
In late April or early May, the two gourmet rooms and a lounge, on a level above the casino, will open. The restaurants are Pacific Prime, a fish and steaks dining room, and Viviano, an Italian restaurant. The lounge that connects them will be Cameo.
There are two more restaurants in the Radisson lobby, the Valley Taverns, with a pub atmosphere, and Nosh Deli, which serves big-portion items.
Scheri, the casino’s CEO, said he expects that having those amenities available will make the casino’s players’ club more attractive than those of some of its Pennsylvania competitors.
“We realize that,” Scheri said. “And we thought a lot about it.”
“Our players will be able to use the points they earn for hotel and dining, cover charges into the nightclub and retail,” he added. “They won’t be limited to just getting more free slot play.”
Scheri said that the casino expects to offer headliner entertainment, although he wasn’t specific about who would be performing. The convention center can accommodate 3,000 seats and a ballroom can be turned into a 600-seat theater.