Philly Park Adopts Restrictions for Under-18 Crowd

The transformation of the bulk of Philadelphia Park’s grandstand into a slot-machine casino has prompted management to implement its first major policy change.

On March 27, the Bensalem Township, Pa., racetrack began barring individuals under 18 years of age from the building during simulcast hours, and allowing them only in the fifth-floor restaurant, box-seating area, and outdoor picnic grove during live racing hours when accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.

The first two floors of Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, with the exception of a small area near the outdoor paddock, have been transformed into a slots casino, with a minimum age of 21 for entrance under state law. The top, or fifth, floor is now reserved for pari-mutuel wagering. (In Pennsylvania, the minimum age to play horses is 18.)

“What was starting to happen was adults were bringing their children to the track, and then going to play the slots while one adult would watch a large group of children up on the fifth floor,” said Hal Handel, chief executive officer of Greenwood Racing, which owns Philly Park. “They were being supervised very loosely up there, and we thought it was very unfair to our racing patrons.

“It had reached a point at which we weren’t happy about it, and the casino people weren’t happy about it.”

Handel said by May 5, the day of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the outdoor picnic grove should be fully functional with televisions, self-serve betting machines, tellers, restrooms, and a new entrance.  Families are welcome to enjoy a day at the races there, he said.