The expansion will yield 1,600 construction jobs and 500 full-time casino positions. SugarHouse currently has about 1,000 employees.
Among those in attendance yesterday were SugarHouse's CEO and general manager, Greg Carlin and Wendy Hamilton, City Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilmen Mark Squilla (in whose district the casino is located) and William Greenlee, and attorney Richard Sprague, a minority owner of the almost four-year-old gambling hall.
During her remarks, Hamilton noted the casino has waited a long time to expand. After the ceremony, she explained the additions weren't necessarily what was originally planned before the recession of 2008 and neighborhood concerns resulted in a downsizing of the original blueprints.
"In 3 1/2 years of operation, we're a lot smarter now," she said. "We know we're building exactly the right thing, because our players have told us.
"We've seen where there is demand, and what people want as part of their gaming experience. That's why even though we don't need a lot of gaming at this point, we knew we needed these amenities to round out the experience. That was pretty much dictated by what our players told us."
Because poker has proven so popular in the region - particularly at Bensalem's Parx Casino and Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa - players won't have to wait until the permanent card parlor is ready. This fall, a temporary, 24-table space will open on the casino's south side, and will remain in operation until the permanent room debuts sometime next year.
On Twitter: @chuckdarrow