Updated: 2/19/17
Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack


(click any image to enlarge)


Casino Overview
With all the ambience of an airplane hangar, Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack (formerly Harrah's Chester) still packs 'em in!  You'll also find some of the nicest and friendliest employees to be found in a casino (or any large operation – think Target or Walmart).  All employees – no matter what their jobs – seem to be honestly concerned that you have a great time, even to the point of asking if their fellow employees treated you well.
 
Unlike most Caesars properties, though, there is no hotel here. . .this is strictly a casino (or racino, to be more accurate), with a seasonal harness racing track operating from March or April through December.  The 2016 schedule ran from April 1 through December 12.  In addition, horse races from around the country are simulcast year-round on the second floor.  Click here to view the Racing page on the casino's website.

The casino is very large and may appear extremely crowded when you walk in.  However, take a few extra steps to walk toward the other end, and you will find it's much less crowded.

While there is the usual array of slots and video poker, along with electronic versions of blackjack with a "dealer" on a video screen interacting with players and "dealing" cards, there also is "live" table gaming.

Alcoholic beverages on the floor (but not the Diamond Lounge) are complimentary (see below), and there also are several complimentary self-serve soft drink dispensers located throughout the casino, but they are frequently out of service either the beverages are depleted or the icemaker is broken.  Pennsylvania law requires that the casino stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.  Service begins again at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and on Sunday at 11 a.m.
 

Insider Tip

Pennsylvania has a Clean Indoor Air Act; however, more than 1,700 of Harrah's 2.800 slots and video poker machines, in all denominations, are "smoker friendly." Smoking also is allowed in the Diamond Lounge, but only at the bar.
The casino is equipped with Caesars proprietary Total Touch system that allows customers to order drinks, redeem free play, check their Total Rewards account balances, and receive real-time offers based on play.

You can charge your cellphone for free if you have a Total Rewards card.  Look for the charging stations on the casino floor.  You can also charge your phone at certain slot machines in the High Limit area.

To claim any or all of your five annual Seven Stars $100 Celebration Dinner vouchers at Harrah's Philadelphia, you'll have to go to the Total Rewards Center.  While you can print your vouchers at any time, try to wait until the day you're going to use the voucher(s).   Even though a lost or damaged voucher can be replaced, it can be time-consuming and you might not be able to get it on the day you want to use it. The vouchers are good at The Cove, Guy Fieri's and Mien.  (Diamond cardholders, follow the same procedure for your annual $100 Celebration Dinner.)

Dining
- Food service runs the gamut from the
Cove Steakhouse & Raw Bar, the casino's full-service "fine dining" restaurant which is open only Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, to The Market.  The Market offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining options, featuring salads, pizzas, Italian-style deli sandwiches, baked pastas, panini and other made-to-order specialties.  Additionally, The Market offers guests a selection of house-made soups, yogurt parfaits, fresh fruit and juices.

The area's first Starbucks will open the end of March.

Philly Tap & Tavern has closed and reopened as Guy Fieri's Philly Kitchen + Bar.  According to Harrah's, Philly Kitchen + Bar "offers guests a taste of Fieri's signature cuisine, featuring daring flavors and unique twists on traditional dishes."  The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining, offering a variety of burgers, wings, tacos, small bites and shareable items, as well as a diverse menu of adult beverages.


Insider Tip

While you have to pay sales tax if you use Reward Credits at Philly Steak Shack, Total Rewards cardholders have the option of using Reward Credits or paying cash and getting a discount on their purchase.  Seven Stars cardholders get a 20 percent discount, Diamond cardholders get a 15 percent, Platinum cardholders get a 10 percent and Gold cardholders get a five percent.  In addition, if you join the Philly Steak Shack Members Club you will get a welcome gift and a birthday gift, as well as special offers, discounts and access to other promotions.  Visit www.phillysteakshackclub.com.  Note, though, that, if you take advantage of one of the monthly discount offers you may get, you can't use your Reward Credits to pay for it.  If you're ordering something else, ask for a separate check.
On the second floor Philly Steak Shack (formerly Tony Luke's which was formerly Derby Burger Bar which was formerly Winning Streaks) serves hoagies, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, salads and other casual dining fare.  A Krispy Kreme is located next door.

In addition, you can enjoy a beer or cocktail at The Copper Mug.

Just off the casino floor next to the high limit slots area there's also
 a small Asian restaurant, Mien.

 

Insider Tip

Save a little money when you eat at Caffe Napoli or Philly Steak Shack. Use the complimentary self-service soft drink machines on the casino floor and near the Copper Mug on the second floor to dispense your beverages.
Entertainment 
- C-Bar – formerly Stir – has entertainment on a regular basis (musicians, singers, dancers, DJs).  Harrah's Event Center hosts a lot of "vintage" bands and musicians like Tony Orlando and Eddie Money, as well as comedians and "specialty shows" like John Edwards. 
Temptations Buffet is closed and is now a venue called The Block Entertainment Center.
 
Parking
- Self-parking in an adjacent six-floor garage is complimentary for all guests (see more on this below), but complimentary valet parking is available for Seven Stars, Diamond and Platinum cardholders.  [Look for Randi; he has been handling valet since the casino opened.]  Note that, after presenting your claim check to the valet cashier, you retrieve your car toward the rear of the building in an enclosed underground area.
 

Insider Tip

With your $125 food credit, you could split your day by enjoying a race or two, perhaps having cocktails in the Diamond Lounge, and then have a nice seated served dinner for four at The Cove.  Or you could do the race one day and have dinner another.  [The food credit also is good at the Riverview Tavern or Mien, but you need to specify this to your host.]
Special Seven Stars Benefits*
Once each year during racing season you can get a horse race named after you or someone you designate.  Following the race, you and your guest(s) get a photo taken with the winning horse, and, optionally, a tour of the paddock area.  In addition, you get a $25 credit to bet on any race[s] and a $125 food credit
– see Insider Tip, left.

Seven Stars cardholders may make unlimited daily visits to the Diamond Lounge (see below); Diamond members (with one guest) are limited to one visit per day.  In addition, Seven Stars cardholders have reserved tables and may request a special dessert from their server.
 
There is a special Seven Stars "happy hour" from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays in The Bar At The Block.  Seven Stars cardholders and one guest may enjoy complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvre.  There is a drawing at 6:15; five of the Seven Stars cardholders present each win $100 in free slot play.  (Some weeks additional free play is given away.)
 

Insider Tip

Wheelchairs can be rented for up to six hours for $10, for up to 12 hours for $15. Wheelchairs returned after the contracted time limit will be billed $3 for one hour and at the same rate for each additional hour. Fees are waived for wheelchair rentals if a guest shows valid state-issued disability ID card. Scooters can be rented for up to four hours for $25, for up to eight hours for $35, and for up to 12 hours for $45. Scooters returned after the contracted time limit will be billed $5 for one hour and at the same rate for each additional hour. A valid state-issued ID is required for all rentals. Payment options are cash, credit cards and Reward Credits.
While there is a five percent check-cashing fee, it's waived for Seven Stars cardholders and Diamond cardholders who earned 80,000 tier credits, but the fee is returned in the form of free play.

Seven Stars cardholders get a 10 percent discount on menu items at The Cove, Mien, Caffe Napoli Express and Guy Fieri's.

There is dedicated parking on the third level; use your player's card to open the gate, but, frankly, if space is available, parking on the fourth level is really more convenient because you can walk right into the casino level.  Alternatively, parking on the fifth level requires only a short ride on an escalator to get into the casino.
 
Other benefits include dedicated Seven Stars windows at the cashier, a complimentary copy of the daily Racing Form, and complimentary and priority valet service.

 

Seven Stars Lounge
T
here is no Seven Stars Lounge, but a spacious Diamond Lounge overlooks the casino floor on one side and the racetrack/river on the other.  Look for the escalator near the C-Bar in the middle of the casino.  (There also is access by elevator.)  Seven Stars cardholders may make unlimited daily visits.  (Diamond cardholders and a guest may visit only once per day, or pay 10 comp dollars per person for a second admittance.)

 

Insider Tip

Visit any of more than 30 restaurants, spas and salons, and other local retailers in the Greater Philadelphia area, present your Total Rewards card, and earn Reward Credits. $1 = One Reward Credit. For a list of participating locations, click here.
Harrah's Diamond Lounge has a large bar, and lots of seating, but only soft drinks, coffee and water are complimentary.  While alcoholic beverages are complimentary in the casino, there is a charge in the lounge, e.g., $2 for a glass of house wine.  Food service consists of a selection of fruit, a hot entree, a hot vegetable and starch, soup, cookies, a couple cold salads, and trays of cold sandwiches.  In addition, there is a self-serve soft ice cream machine and a coffee bar.

The Lounge is open Sundays through Thursdays from 3 to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 3 to 10 p.m.  Food service ends at 9:30 on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 8:30 all other days.  Hours are always subject to change, so check first.
 

Insider Tip

When Harrah’s says that downloaded free slot play expires after 72 hours, it means it.  The clock starts ticking as soon as the funds hit your bank.  In other words, if you download slot play at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, it will expire at 7:59 a.m. the following Friday.
Total Rewards Center
The Total Rewards Center is open Mondays through Thursdays from noon to 1 a.m., and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Should You Choose This For Your Annual Retreat?
It's an option, but since there is no hotel a host may be able to arrange accommodations at the nearby Wyndham or Springhill Suites.  Unless you have your own transportation, you'll have to depend on the hotel's van service.  With Atlantic City just a little more than hour away, that would be your nearest alternative.

Also, note that casinos without hotels are under no obligation to host your annual retreat, a Diamond Aspiration trip, or even provide you with a complimentary hotel room during any visit.
 
 

*subject to change, revision or cancellation



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