Capitalizing on the prosperity of its first four years in business, SugarHouse is undergoing a $164 million expansion. When it’s completed in 2015, the Fishtown casino will be double its current size, with new restaurants, event space, gaming areas and parking facilities.
A big reason for SugarHouse’s success is Wendy Hamilton, who’s been the general manager since it opened. Raised in Newtown Square and a graduate of Bryn Mawr’s Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Hamilton left Duke University with a degree in biology and every intention of becoming a physician. She took what was to be a temporary job at the front desk at Harrah’s in Atlantic City and ended up staying for seven years, working in places like Illinois and Missouri. “The gaming industries are younger there, as opposed to New Jersey and Nevada,” says Hamilton, who has since settled in Haddonfield, N.J. “In the Midwest, legalizing gaming was an uphill battle, so there are a lot of restrictions placed on the activity.”
In Philadelphia, Hamilton leaves the politics to others and focuses on creating quality experiences for guests. “It’s true that I’m on call 24/7/365,” she says. “But I’ve learned that, if good people are running the place, no one needs to work 70 hours a week. I do get 3 a.m. phone calls, but I’ve never had two days be the same—and I love that.”