It’s the end of the road for Oaks Race & Sportsbook.
During a call to Parx yesterday, a customer service rep said the OTB was permanently closed. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) confirmed that Parx had informed them about Oaks Race & Sportsbook’s closure.
A July 7 visit by Play Pennsylvania to Oaks Race & Sportsbook in Montgomery County revealed overgrown grass, debris from a storm and deer wandering the parking lot.
Closed, but Parx can still decide to reopen at a later date
A call to Oaks Race & Sportsbook was answered by voicemail, which said:
“You have currently reached Oaks Race & Sportsbook. We are currently closed. Any 2019 uncashed tickets may be redeemed at Parx Casino or Parx Racing in Bensalem until July 31. “
PGCB Director of Communication Doug Harbach commented:
“We will work with Parx if they would decide to resume operations at a later date, which they can do at any time since their sports wagering license permits auxiliary locations. If that occurs, of course, we would need to conduct some new testing before the operations would reopen.”
One year ago, the OTBs had high hopes
Parx operates South Philadelphia Race & Turf Club and Oaks Race & Sportsbook. Greenwood Racing Inc. owns Parx and both of the OTBs.
South Philadelphia Race & Turf Club started offering sports betting in January 2019, and Oaks Race & Sportsbook (then Valley Forge Turf Club) followed in March 2019. Oaks Race & Sportsbook completed a $500,000 renovation prior to offering sports betting. The improvements included several high-definition televisions and improved surveillance equipment.
It had a favorable location, off of busy US 422 and near the Marketplace at Oaks and the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.
Oaks Race & Sportsbook reached its all-time high for handle ($3 million) in March 2019 and revenue ($449,597) in April 2019. One year later, in March 2020, it dipped to its lowest handle ($284,736) and went into the red for revenue (-$8,526).
OTBs and Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos closed in mid-March to slow the spread of coronavirus. The first casinos in Pennsylvania began welcoming back visitors on June 9. By July 17, all 12 PA brick-and-mortar casinos were back in operation.
South Philly OTB still closed
PlayPennsylvania also visited South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook on July 6. The door was locked, and the parking lot was empty. We returned on July 11 to find the same situation.
The customer service rep at Parx on a call yesterday said that “South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook isn’t opening yet.”
A call to South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook was answered by voicemail, which said, “Thank you for calling Parx Racing at South Philadelphia. We are open at noon daily; Sunday, Monday and Tuesday until 10 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday until 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until midnight.”
Mobile betting rules PA
Despite its favorable location and upgrades, Oaks Race & Sportsbook suffered from the advent of online wagering, which started in late May 2019 in Pennsylvania. Currently, there are nine online sportsbooks, which account for about 90% of the state’s sports wagering handle.
It’s also likely that coronavirus shutdowns, capacity limits and no smoking/eating/drinking rules harmed Oaks Race & Sportsbook’s prospects.