PA Gaming Review: Casinos, Horse Racing Back On Track, MLB And Hockey On The Way

Written By Kevin Shelly on June 23, 2020 - Last Updated on May 12, 2023
Gaming getting back on track in PA

Pennsylvania gaming news was all about trying to return to something like normal as virus infections continue to slow.

Horse racing resumed at five of six racino locations, but without spectators in the stands. All casinos are now in the green and either open or making plans to open, though with many new precautions in place.

MLB muffed its restart, with infections in several training camps, and disagreements between owners and players resulting in a historically short season. And the NHL playoffs are set to return next month.

Horses are back on track

After three months without racing, three harness tracks and two thoroughbred courses were back in action by the end of last week.

Thoroughbred racing in Pennsylvania resumed Friday evening, June 19, at Penn National Race Course. Four days earlier, trotting horses resurrected PA harness racing at The Meadows Casino and Racetrack.

It’s nice to yell once or twice — or more — at a horse,” said Lancaster resident Bill Patton. He’d made do by watching races from Australia on TVG during the shutdown.

Pocono Downs, Harrah’s Philadelphia and Parx Racing are also now all open. Presque Isle Downs remains closed, with a tentative opening date of July 20.

Casinos following with plans to restart operations

Six of PA’s 12 casinos have now reopened, with six more to reopen soon as they move into the so-called green zone.

But Penn National is shedding employees in the process, with more than 1,900 job losses across the regional player’s locations, including many in PA. Penn has pointed to the virus, but the headcount is going down as the company embraces a more online shift with the Barstool Sports brand.

Major League Baseball bobbles the ball, NHL plans return

The Phillies’ training camp in Florida is closed after five players and three staffers came down with COVID-19.

Other teams have similar issues in training.

Meanwhile, unable to come to terms, owners have voted to impose a shortened 60-game season on the players and to require returning to training by July 1 and accepting virus safety protocols. The likely start date for the season is July 24.

Hockey may soon be upon us too, with qualifying rounds planned to begin July 30. PA sportsbooks have the Penguins and the Flyers as contenders to win the Stanley Cup this year.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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