Parx Racing.

Parx Racing.


Philly Gets Permanent Slots License

Philly Park can now move forward with plans to build a new slots casino.

Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack received approval for its master plan from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Dec. 18 and now has a permanent license to operate slot machines.

The master plan calls for construction of a stand-alone slots casino on racetrack property. Currently, slot machines are located in the grandstand/clubhouse.

By law, Philly Park could operate under its conditional license for one year from the date it began operating slots. The conditional license expired Dec. 19. Approval of the master plan was necessary for the facility to receive a permanent license and continue operating the machines.

“Philadelphia Park stepped up to the plate over the last month and worked with the board, local government, and horsemen’s groups to finalize a master plan that demonstrates its commitment to building a world-class facility,” gaming board chair Mary DiGiacomo Colins said in a statement released after the board’s Dec. 18 meeting. “The plans also show that Philadelphia Park will use numerous cross-promotion initiatives to assure that the slots and horseracing facilities operate in the type of integrated manner envisioned under the (gaming law of 2004).”

The gaming board’s approval came just a week after Philly Park and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association announced a seven-year extension of their live racing agreement. The Pennsylvania THA previously expressed concern with the facility’s current set-up in which almost all pari-mutuel operations are located on the fifth floor. Total on-site handle is down almost 10% this year.

Expected to be completed in November 2009, the $250-million plan calls for upgrades to the grandstand and $25 million for renovation of 36 barns and 12 dormitories. The commitment is more than twice that mandated by the gaming law, officials said.

The plan also enables Philly Park to explore options for additional build-out between the grandstand and new casino, including retail facilities or a hotel. According to the master plan, the new slots casino will be located in the vast parking lot between the track entrance on Street Road and the grandstand/clubhouse.