South Philly Turf Club Staying Close To Its Horse Racing Roots With New Sportsbook

Written By Bill Gelman on January 18, 2019
South Philadephia Turf Club

As one steps foot into the South Philadelphia Turf Club, it’s hard not to notice that Citizens Bank Park is footsteps away. Come the spring, Philadelphia Phillies fans, if they so desire, will legally be able to bet the run line on the home team.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, the Parx-run off-track betting facility is open for Pennsylvania sports betting. Yes, there is a legal sportsbook walking distance from where the Philadelphia EaglesSixersFlyers and Phillies call home. Patrons can also still place wagers on horse races, as the majority of customers were doing Thursday afternoon. Seven of the betting windows are labeled “sports wagering,” but other than a couple of hundred new televisions spread throughout the venue, it’s still the same old turf club.

The official opening comes exactly a week after Parx Casino opened its temporary sportsbook.

Plenty of sports betting opportunities

While the betting window on the Eagles season closed following Sunday’s NFL Divisional Round loss to the New Orleans Saints, the door is far from closed on PA sports wagering opportunities. Super Bowl LIII is Feb. 3. Plus there is the NBA, NHL college basketball, and before we know it, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be here.

“Those few weeks are going to be a lot of fun here,” Matthew Cullen, Parx Casino vice president of interactive gaming and sports, said of March Madness.

South Philadelphia Turf Club betting hours

  • Mondays-Thursdays: noon-12 a.m.
  • Fridays: noon-2 a.m.
  • Saturdays: 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
  • Sundays: 10 a.m.-12 a.m.

Parx + Kambi extend partnership

The Kambi-run sportsbook is not taking over the 27,000-square-foot property, but rather complementing the current horse racing offerings. Besides the betting windows, there are nine sports betting kiosks.

Max Meltzer, Kambi’s chief commercial officer, shared his thoughts on the South Philly location in a press release:

“The prime location of the South Philadelphia Turf Club offers Kambi a unique platform to reach some of Philadelphia’s most passionate sports fans who when going to support their teams also want some skin in the game.”

Whether customers making wagers in Bensalem or in South Philly, and eventually at ValleyForge Turf Club and online, the odds will be exactly the same across the board. The entire operation is being controlled from above the Parx Casino gaming floor. Cullen explained:

“It’s the same system, same platform. My team back at Bensalem is managing everything from a back end business perspective. We are effectively running everything from upstairs in the casino.”

Speaking of Bensalem, there is a permanent $10 million, 10,000-square-foot Parx Sportsbook under construction at Parx Casino. It’s targeted for a summer opening.

Valley Forge Turf Club is on deck

Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, the parent company of Parx, is far from finished with its PA sports betting plans. Up next is the opening an on-property sportsbook at the Valley Forge Turf Club. It could possibly be open as early as March, just in time for Major League Baseball season and March Madness. Cullen says the project is still in the planning stages, so there is still a lot of work to be done. It will be followed by all of the pre-launch steps as required by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, including the two days of testing.

The Parx team is certainly familiar enough with the process. So far, Cullen and his team have yet to experience any hiccups.

“It went really, really smoothly in both locations, frankly.”

On the radar: PA online sports betting

Parx and Kambi are conditionally approved to move forward with Pennsylvania online sports betting.

There is still that million-dollar question:

When will it launch?

Some might be fearing that Monday’s news that the new Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act could delay those plans even further. But it seems both Parx and the PGCB are confident that the plans will move forward as scheduled.

PGCB Communications Director Doug Harbach addressed how the board would monitor the new decision in a statement:

“We must thoroughly review and discuss the opinion to gauge any ramifications to gaming activities in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, as Pennsylvania’s current gaming is all intrastate and legal within the borders of the state, we will continue to regulate the legal forms of gaming as provided for in the Gaming Act.”

Cullen and the team at Parx plan on doing the same as it gears up for the expected launch of online sports betting later this year, possibly as early as the first quarter.

“We are still doing some analysis in terms of what that letter means. Based on that analysis with inside/outside counsel, we don’t expect any changes to what we currently have planned.”

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill covers the legal gambling industry including sports betting, online casinos and Atlantic City casino news.

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