Introduction

The Meadows is a Pennsylvania racino, located in North Shabone township, about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh. The venue consists of a harness racing track and casino. Hyatt Place (part of the world renowned family of Hyatt hotels) is minutes away by footbridge or shuttle bus.

The property is one of six licensed racinos in Pennsylvania. The racetrack was in existence long before the addition of casino games. In fact, The Meadows, which has been operating since 1963, was the first horse racing track to accept parimutuel betting in Western Pennsylvania. Over the years, the track underwent numerous ownership changes. It is currently owned by Gaming & Leisure Properties and operated by Pinnacle Entertainment.

Unlike most harness racing tracks, The Meadows offers a year-round racing program. Live races take place on more than 200 days each year. Specific racing days vary, but most races take place on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday and Friday evenings. Simulcast racing and wagering is offered daily.

The Meadows was one of the facilities in Pennsylvania that was awarded a gambling license for slot machines after legislation allowing slots gambling was passed in 2004. A temporary slots casino opened adjacent to the racetrack on June 11, 2007, after which the old grandstand was removed to make room for a permanent casino. When the permanent casino opened on April 15, 2009, the temporary casino closed. Following the approval of table games in Pennsylvania casinos in 2010, Meadows casino patrons were able to play table games, too.

Amenities

Hyatt Place

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is a place that people can come either just for the day or evening or for a more extended stay. A four-star luxury hotel, Hyatt Place, while not on the property per se, is easily reached by casino shuttle or footbridge, making it super convenient for those who would like to stay in the area overnight or longer. This completely smoke-free luxury hotel is the recipient of the TripAdvisor 2016 Certificate of Excellence.

Accommodations can be booked online as well as by phone and range from spacious rooms to 670 square-foot suites with a separate bedroom and living room. All rooms and suites include the following amenities:

  • One king bed or two queen beds with plush Grand Hyatt bedding
  • Cozy Corner with a sofa sleeper
  • 42” flat screen swivel HDTV
  • Mini-fridge
  • Single cup coffeemaker
  • In-room safe
  • Generous workspace
  • Luxury skin and hair care products

In addition, all hotel guests can take advantage of the following:

  • Complimentary breakfast buffet
  • 24/7 room service menu
  • Indoor heated pool
  • Free garage parking
  • Complimentary shuttle to Tanger Outlet Center or any other destination within a five mile radius
  • Free Wi-Fi and free access to public computers with Internet access

Discounts and promotions

While rates vary, they are surprisingly reasonable for a hotel of this caliber. Special discounts are offered for Hyatt Gold Program members, seniors, AAA members, and government employees, but even without a discount, weeknight rates can are generally well below $200 and can be as low as $127. Government employees receive a bargain rate of $89 most nights.

Hyatt Place participates in the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program. If you are a frequent guest at Hyatt hotels, a stay at Hyatt Place can help you qualify for a free night at any participating Hyatt resort worldwide. Hyatt Place has been consistently rated excellent on visitor review sites. Guests rave about the spacious and clean rooms and friendly, accommodating staff.

Dining and nightlife

The restaurants at The Meadows include both upscale and casual eateries. For fine dining with a panoramic view of both the racetrack and the casino floor, there is the award-winning Bistecca Steakhouse.

For more casual dining, visitors can choose from The Carvery, an upscale buffet overlooking the racetrack, Delvis, a trackside restaurant open during all live racing programs, or the Food Court (located on the casino floor). Another option is the Band Wagon, an indoor food truck serving wings, sliders, lobster rolls, and other bar food. Clearly, anyone who comes to The Meadows hungry, won’t be hungry long!

While the casino games-racing combo should suffice on its own to keep anyone at The Meadows from being bored, guests seeking other entertainment besides gambling won’t be disappointed. Headliners, located on the main casino level near the Food Court, offers live music from local bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Vibe Ultra Lounge, also located on the main casino level, is a dance club with live DJs that is open Friday and Saturday nights as well.

Alternatively, and this is a rarity at casinos, The Meadows also offers bowling. Hours of operation are Sunday-Thursday from noon to midnight and Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 a.m.

In addition, from time to time, special events take place at The Meadows. Rather than today’s hottest acts, the performers are old timers like Tony Orlando and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Tickets are reasonably priced, starting at just $19.95.

Casino overview

Who can play in the casino?

The regulations concerning the minimum age to gamble at Meadows Racetrack and Casino are the same as for any other licensed Pennsylvania casino. No one under age 21 can play in the casino. This age requirement is strictly enforced at all times. Anyone over the age of 18 is allowed to place bets on the horse racing.

Security and fairness

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is licensed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), the same agency which oversees all legalized gambling in Pennsylvania. Under the PGCB’s watchful eye, The Meadows is a safe place to play and the fairness of its games is ensured. Furthermore, longevity says a lot about the trustworthiness of any gambling operation, and the Meadows Racetrack has been operating successfully for over 50 years. Even though the casino is a relatively recent addition, this is clearly a venue that the people of Pennsylvania trust.

While many players have complained about the tight slots, the same is true at all of the Pennsylvania casinos, and the payouts are well within the PGCB guidelines.

Casino games

The 350,000 square-foot casino floor is one of the largest on the East Coast, offering over 3,300 slots and video poker machines and more than 67 table games. There is also a small poker room with 14 tables.

Slots and video poker

All of the slot and video poker terminals incorporate a ticket in/ticket out feature, which makes moving from one machine to another easy. The slots offerings include everything form traditional three-reel games to the latest, most technologically advanced multi-line video slots, including some with progressive jackpots. Some of the casino’s most popular slots include the recently added games Super Monopoly Money, Lord of the Rings, and Sphinx 3D.

Whatever your preferences in slots happen to be, finding a game to fit your taste and bankroll is not a problem. If you are more comfortable sticking with familiar favorites, there are lots of those games. But if you are eager to try something new, head for the New Game Zone containing the latest releases, exclusively.

There is also a high limit room for high-end slot players, offering slots and video poker machines starting at $1 and going up to $100. Players can bet up to $375 per spin.

Players say slots are too tight

While slot players at The Meadows are probably very happy with the wide selection of games, they are unhappy about the rate of return and feel that the machines are not paying them back as often and as much as they should. However, similar sentiments are expressed by slot players at all of the Pennsylvania casinos. So clearly the problem is not limited to any one casino, but is statewide.

The complaining players are not imagining that the frequency of slot payouts is probably less than what they might have experienced at other casinos out of state. The average return to the player (RTP) for Pennsylvania slots is only 89-90 percent, as compared to several percentage points higher at many other casinos. However, Pennsylvania casinos are allowed to offer returns as low as 85 percent on their slots and still meet PGCB guidelines.

One likely reason why the slot payouts in Pennsylvania aren’t better is that many players are realizing that they have better shot of winning at table games, especially blackjack. So increasing the hold on the slot machines could be a way to preserve the bottom line. Another reason why Pennsylvania casinos may not be inclined to offer loose slots is the relatively high 55 percent tax rates the state imposes on slot machines.

Furthermore, penny machines, which have become very popular, are known to have a lower RTP than higher-denomination machines.

If you still want to play slots at The Meadows , your best recourse is to set aside a strict budget for your slot play and adhere to it. Keep your sessions short, and if you’re lucky enough to be winning, pocket some of your winnings so you leave with at least some profit intact.

Table games

Meadows Casino offers all of the following table games:

  • Blackjack
  • Roulette
  • Mini and midi baccarat
  • Craps
  • Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus Poker
  • Pai gow poker
  • Three card poker
  • Four card poker
  • Criss-Cross Poker
  • Let It Ride
  • Mississippi stud
  • Big Six wheel

Minimum and maximum bets vary depending on the game. However, high stakes action is welcome. In fact, in addition to the high limit room for slots players, there is another one for table game players offering blackjack, roulette, midi baccarat, and craps. The minimum bet is $50 and the maximum is $15,000. Special amenities include a VIP lounge, butler service, and a private salon.

Table games odds and prop bets

American roulette appears to be the only version of roulette offered at this casino. If that is the case, it is unfortunate because American roulette not only has the usual 0 on the wheel, but also a 00, which raises the house edge substantially, to 5.26 percent. European roulette, with a single zero only and a house edge of only 2.70 percent, is a better game for the player.

As you will see, The Meadows offers many varieties of casino table poker. Just make sure if you play one of these games, that you familiarize yourself with the rules and format of that particular game variant.

Craps players who want extra action and excitement will find it at this casino, which offers 10x odds plus an optional Fire Bet, with the opportunity to win up to $5,000. Baccarat players can choose either midi baccarat or mini baccarat, which have basically the same rules, except that in midi baccarat, players can hold the cards, whereas in mini baccarat they cannot. The Big Six wheel is a carnival type game with a very high house edge, so it is best avoided except for an occasional small bet just for fun.

Blackjack

There is no doubt that blackjack is the most popular table game at The Meadows, as the consistently crowded tables indicate. One of the reasons for this game’s widespread appeal is that many players know it offers better odds than most other casino games. Another is that the outcome depends on skill as well as luck, which some players like because they feel that they have more of say in their ability to win.

There are many different variations of blackjack, with different sets of rules, which can make the game either more or less favorable to the player. Instead of encountering inconsistent rules, the PGCB determined the rules and made them uniform for all land-based casinos in the state. Furthermore, the blackjack game that the Pennsylvania casinos offer is a good one; the rules, which are summarized below, are superior to what you will find at most other American casinos:

  • Blackjack pays 3:2
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Doubling down permitted on any two cards
  • Doubling down after splits
  • Splits up to three hands (except aces)
  • Late surrender

In order to maximize your potential to win with these good rules, it is important to play according to the correct basic strategy. Blackjack players at The Meadows who employ the correct basic strategy encounter a house edge of only .40 percent.

Another area where blackjack players need to be mindful is the table minimum. Small stakes players with a limited bankroll might not find any available tables at the stakes they are prepared to play. Most of the Pennsylvania casinos don’t have any $5 blackjack tables at all; while this casino does have a few, but they are only offered on weekdays and fill up quickly.

Blackjack prop bets

Blackjack players at The Meadows have the option to make certain proposition bets in addition to the standard blackjack bets. However, if you do so consistently, your improved chance of winning based on the otherwise favorable rules will be negated.  If you try these bets at all, do so sparingly and for low stakes only. On the other hand, having one of these extra bets going for you occasionally adds to the fun of the game and, you never know, you could be a big winner!

Lucky Ladies

This is a bet that your hand will total 20 on the first two cards. The payouts are as follows:

  • Any 20: 4 to 1
  • Suited 20: 10 to 1
  • Matched pair: 25 to1
  • Two queens of hearts: 200 to1
  • Two queens of hearts against a dealer blackjack 1,000 to 1

21 + 3 Xtreme

Your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard constitute your three-card hand. The possible winning hands and the payout for each are as follows:

  • Flush: 5 to 1
  • Straight: 10 to 1
  • Three of a kind: 20 to 1
  • Straight flush: 30 to 1

In-Bet

This is a bet that the value of the dealer’s upcard falls in between the player’s first two cards. For example, if your two cards are 3 and 10 and the dealer’s upcard is a 5, the bet is a winner. These are the payouts:

  • Any in-bet: 1-1
  • Three-card spread: 4-1
  • Two-card spread: 6-1
  • One-card spread: 10-1
  • Triple match: 30-1

A triple match occurs when your two cards and the dealer’s card are all the same value. It is the only exception to the rule that the dealer’s card must be in between the player’s first two cards.

Blackjack Match with a Progressive Jackpot

If your first two cards include an ace, you’re a winner. These are the payouts for different hands based on a $5 wager. Players receive only the highest payout possible:

  • Any ace: 2 for 1 ($10)
  • Any blackjack: 5 for 1 ($25)
  • Suited blackjack 10 for 1 ($50)
  • Both suited blackjack and dealer blackjack: 50 for 1 ($250)
  • Both suited blackjack and dealer suited blackjack: 300 for 1 ($1,500)
  • Player and dealer matching suited blackjack: 10% of Progressive Jackpot
  • Player and dealer matching suit, ace-king blackjacks: 100% of Progressive Jackpot

Poker

The Meadows Poker Room, like the rest of the casino, is open 24/7. What it lacks in size (only 14 tables), it more than makes up for in action. Cash games include the usual limit and no-limit hold’em, along with Omaha and Omaha hi-lo. There are also morning and evening tournaments daily and occasional special tournaments. The buy-ins for the regular tournaments range from $31 to $126.

On the third Saturday of each month, a high hand promotion is in effect. Every half hour between 10 a.m. and 12 a.m., $200 is awarded for the high hand of the designated period. In addition, anyone who gets a Royal Flush wins a progressive jackpot.

The Meadows Players Club

Every time you use your player’s card to play slots or table games at The Meadows Casino, you earn points. Then, when you accumulate enough of them, you can redeem them for amenities at The Meadows or, if you prefer, for vouchers that you can use at various other retail establishments in town.

Every $1 wagered on slots or every $5 wagered on table games is worth one point. Every 1,000 points is exchangeable for one redemption dollar.

Points can only be used for purchases and cannot be exchanged for cash back. Unredeemed points expire after seven months of inactivity.

Tier levels and benefits

Meadows Casino also offers a five-tiered loyalty program based on number of points earned during each rolling six month qualifying period. The five levels are:

  • Club
  • Silver (requiring 5,000 points or more)
  • Gold (requiring 25,000 points or more)
  • Platinum (requiring 100,000 points or more)
  • Owners Club (requiring 500,000 points or more)

Casino players at all levels earn comps and special offers based on play. All players also receive free play and discounts by mail and email. Players at the Silver level and higher receive a discount at The Meadows Gift Shop. Players at the Gold level and higher also get a restaurant discount:

    • 10% for Gold players
    • 15% for Platinum players
    • 25% for Owners Club level players

Platinum and Owners Club level players receive priority seating at restaurants and also have access to:

    • Adios Lounge
    • The Clubhouse
    • VIP Parking Garage

The Adios Lounge, which is conveniently located next to the high limit slot Room, offers high definition TVs, fine cuisine, and personalized butler service.

Summary

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino has a lot going for it. For starters, it is a multi-activity facility offering not only all your favorite casino games, but also horse racing, bowling, dining, and evening entertainment. Additionally, there is an outstanding hotel adjacent to the property should you wish to spend the night.

The main criticisms that players have of The Meadows are:

  • Hard to win at the slots
  • Not enough low stakes blackjack tables
  • Food and entertainment are just ordinary
  • Ventilation could be better because the smell of smoke carries over to the nonsmoking areas

On the plus side, this is a casino that most players should enjoy, regardless of game and stakes preferences. High end players can enjoy the sophisticated ambiance and personal service of the high limit slot and table games rooms and Adios Lounge. However, the opportunity to earn free play and comp dollars and the frequent special promotions make even low limit players feel like they are getting extra bang for the buck.

Lastly, The Meadows is only a half-hour drive from Pittsburgh and the many worthwhile attractions that city has to offer.

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
210 Racetrack Road
Washington, PA 15301
1-724-503-1200
http://www.meadowsgaming.com/casino