On the Scene: The Oaks, South Philadelphia Race & Turf Club Remain Deserted

Posted on July 7, 2020 - Last Updated on July 6, 2020

When Pennsylvania’s twelve brick-and-mortar casinos closed in mid-March to slow the spread of coronavirus, so did the state’s two off-track betting locations.

The South Philadelphia Race & Turf Club and Oaks Race & Sportsbook, both operated by Parx, remain shuttered. 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.

Most casinos in PA open

The first casinos started to open in Pennsylvania on June 9. Eleven PA casinos were open by June 29 when their home counties moved to the “green” phase of PA’s reopening plan.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh recently closed for a week due to an uptick in the positive cases in Allegheny County.

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The Oaks Race & Sportsbook currently closed

The Oaks Race & Sportsbook, located in Montgomery County, moved to the green phase on June 26. Valley Forge Casino, also located in the same county, welcomed back guests on June 26.

A call to Oaks Race & Sportsbook is answered by voicemail, “Thank you for calling Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook. For hours of operation press 1. 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.”

Their Facebook page has not been updated since Oct. 2019.

Parx’s website does not indicate that Oaks Race and Sportsbook is closed.

Deer, down weatherstripping and debris

PlayPennsylvania took a ride to check out Oaks Race & Sportsbook on July 5.

The parking lot was completely empty. Signs on the doors said:

“Due to the shutdown by Governor Wolf of non-essential businesses, the Oaks Race and Sportsbook will be closed until the ban is lifted. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have any tickets that you would like to cash during this time, please visit Parx Casino or South Philly Race and Sportsbook. Both locations as of March 13th, 2020 are open for business. We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy during this time. See you soon – Oaks Race and Sportsbook.”

The property looked like no one had been attending to it. The grass was overgrown and what appeared to be weatherstripping was hanging from the roof.

A major storm ripped through the area in early June causing about 850,000 power outages. The weatherstripping and tree debris in the parking lot could be the remnants of that.

Wildlife weekend out in Oaks

Oaks Race & Sportsbook was deserted during our visit save for two deers at the edge of the parking lot.

They weren’t the only wildlife out for a “Sunday stroll” as an emu got loose on U.S. Route 422 (again).

Philadelphia in modified green phase

Philadelphia, home of the South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook, entered “a modified, restricted green phase of reopening” on Friday, July 3.

In Philadelphia’s “modified Green,” casinos can resume operations with strict restrictions. All PA casinos must abide by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board COVID-19 Casino Reopening Protocols. The 10-page document details the minimum safety and health-related requirements mandatory before reopening.

Rivers Casino Philadelphia, the only casino in the city limits, has yet to announce a planned return date.

A call to South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook is answered by voicemail: “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.”

Parx Racing at South Philadelphia’s Facebook page has not been updated since 2015.

On their website, Parx does not say that South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook is closed.

Parx Casino did not reply to PlayPennyslvania‘s request for comment.

South Philly Race & Sportsbook closed, despite voicemail saying otherwise

A visit to the South Philadelphia & Sportsbook on July 6 revealed an empty parking lot and locked doors.

A sign said:

“The South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook is temporarily closed for the safety of our guests. We anticipate reopening on March 29, 2020. We apologize for any inconvenience – South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook Management.”

Across the street, Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia continued to rise from the spot of the former Holiday Inn in anticipation of its late December opening.

Katie Kohler Avatar
Written by
Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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