Live! Casino Pittsburgh has come a long way since opening its doors to gamblers a little over two years ago, While there might not have hotel rooms or Citizens Bank Park as its next door neighbor, there is no doubting that this Hempfield Township property is positively impacting the local community.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the past 12 months:

  • Nearly $1.2 million in local taxes
  • $54 million to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in gaming taxes
  • $70,000 in local charitable contributions from LiveCasino’s Giveback Box program.

Live! Casino Pittsburgh General Manager Sean Sullivan has been watching the growth (along with some challenges) since before opening day in November 2022. He oversaw converting the former BonTon department store at the West Moreland Mall into a gaming hall with dining and entertainment amenities. spoke with Sullivan regarding how things are going at the 100,000-square-foot facility that has 750 slots, about 40 live action table games and a FanDuel Sportsbook.

Who is Live! Casino Pittsburgh GM Sean Sullivan?

Sullivan is no stranger to the gambling industry. His more than four decades of experience includes  previously working with the Sands in Las Vegas as well as California tribal gaming. Casinos openings in Colorado and Mississippi have made his list too.

Before stepping into his current position at Live! Casino he held the same role at Meadows Casino (now Hollywood Casino at the Meadows in Washington County). Having somebody who is familiar with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), legislation and casino customers all come in handy when running a land-based casino.

Sullivan joined the Live! team in April 2019 and says “I couldn’t be happier” in regards to his current role.

Live! Casino Pittsburgh continues to evolve

The property falls under what is considered a category 4 casino (also known as mini casino), which permits up to 750 slot machines and 30 table games. However, even over the short period of time since Live! opened, the casino layout is constantly changing.

Sullivan mentioned there have been 16 alterations made to the Live! Pittsburgh gaming floor. And all of them had to be submitted to the PGCB for approval.

“I don’t know if anybody in their first two years would have 16 operational improvement plans submitted and approved,” Sullivan said.

These plans have centered around changes to slot and table gaming products and additional gaming square footage.

“It’s just a constant movement to meet the needs of our guests. So we’re always, always on top of it,” Sullivan said. “It’s like a restaurant. If the Philly cheesesteak isn’t selling, you got to get it off the menu and put something on that will sell.”

Sullivan noted plans center around having “the best current equipment that our customers are asking for.”

Addressing the smoking/non-smoking at PA casinos debate

Live! Casino Pittsburgh currently permits smoking on 25% of the casino floor. Call it a compromise between going completely non-smoking and allowing up the 50% (the maximum permitted). Overall, smoking policies on gaming floors remains a hot debate.

The property also has a brand new HVAC system. This allows for changing out the air in the casino up to 12 times an hour. However, going completely non-smoking seems unlikely at this point.

“You can be in our casinos in three quarters of the space, not even know we have smoking, but we obviously understand the request to go no smoking,” Sullivan said. “And if the entire industry went there, maybe it would make sense.”

He noted that the slot machines in the smoking section do about 30% better than those in the non-smoking section.

However, Live! Pittsburgh does offer an outdoor patio where smoking is permitted. Early on, the property’s executive was thrown two major curve balls surrounding COVID restrictions in which smoking and cocktail service was not permitted on the casino floor. The Live! team addressed the smoking issue by adding an outdoor patio that gamblers are still using today. There are even heaters and comfy furnishings.

“Respectfully, even though we now have some smoking areas in the casino, a lot of people go out there to smoke. So it’s mutually respectful,” Sullivan said of the patio. “And if you don’t want to play a machine in the smoking area, you want to play a machine in the non-smoking, often you’ll see players go outside, smoke, come back in and play wherever they want on the floor. So they’re not forced to go to your area.”

Benefits of being part of the Cordish, Live! family

Live! Casino is owned by the Cordish Companies. While the company isn’t publicly traded, the family-owned business is one of those well-established names in the gaming and entertainment world. Owner David Cordish, who is 82, even visits the Pittsburgh property greeting casino guests.

Sullivan mentioned the benefits of being part of a family-owned business model.

“If you’re a family owned business, you’re not going to have a board of directors. You’re not going to have a stock that you’re always chasing performance. You’re not going to be maybe as quick to cut expenses,” Sullivan said.

“I can tell you our owner [David Cordish] was in three weeks ago, walking through the casino, handing out $100 bills to our team members and to our employees,” Sullivan said. “I mean, you don’t see that. You probably don’t even know who’s in charge of the corporation, but you surely don’t see him in the building.”

The executive and ownership teams talk on a regular basis.

“I believe the Cordish family being our owners is just insurmountable in value for both team members as well as guests,” Sullivan said.

Giving back matters to Live! Casino Pittsburgh team

Sullivan noted that Cordish looks for its team members to get involved with charitable organizations. Sullivan is a board member of the Chamber of Commerce and the local food bank. He also highlighted how Live! has donated over $200,000 to local charities in the two-plus years since the property made its debut.

And the giving back philosophy dates back to Live! Pittsburgh’s pre-opening test days when the property couldn’t be open to the public. The proceeds went to West Mullens County Food Bank and Sage’s Army (helping folks with substance addiction).

“We started right before we even opened, really with those relationships. I’m probably not going to remember all of them, but every quarter we have local charitable organizations that we work with so that customers can donate TITO [ticket-in, ticket-out] tickets,” Sullivan said. “So a customer comes in, they get a $105, they may cash out a $100 and put a $5 TITO ticket in [the Giveback Box].”

Lead image provided by Live! Casino Pittsburgh.