Parx Casino and Racing
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|Parx Casino and Racing|
|Address||2999 Street Road|
Bensalem, PA 19020
|Opening date||Racetrack: November 4, 1974|
Casino: December 18, 2009
|Total gaming space||150,000 square feet (14,000 m2)|
|Signature attractions||Xcite Center|
|Owner||Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc.|
|Previous names||Keystone Racetrack (1974-1984)|
Philadelphia Park (1984-2010)
Parx Casino and Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino) is a Thoroughbred horse racing venue and the largest casino gaming complex in Pennsylvania. Parx is located in Bensalem Township in Bucks County, northeast of the city of Philadelphia. Owned and operated by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc., Parx features 24-hour gaming with over 3,200 slot machines, 188 live table games, a poker room with 48 poker tables, live racing and simulcast action, sports betting, several dining options and bars, and the Xcite Center. Parx also offers online gambling and online sports betting along with off-track betting at two locations.
Originally called Keystone Racetrack, it opened in November 1974 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, replacing the Liberty Bell Park Racetrack in Northeast Philadelphia as the area's Thoroughbred track. When the track was purchased in 1984 by ITB, the racetrack received a new name, Philadelphia Park, a new turf course, and an innovative new way to wager called Phonebet.
In December 1990, the racetrack again changed hands when Greenwood Racing, Inc. (a corporation founded in 1989 by British bookmaking veterans Bob Green and Bill Hogwood) purchased the oval from ITB. Full card simulcasting was added, as well as six off-track locations called Turf Clubs, allowing race fans to watch and wager seven days a week.
Late in 1998, Greenwood joined with fellow Pennsylvania corporation, Penn National Gaming, Inc., in expanding into New Jersey with the purchase of Freehold Raceway in Freehold Borough and the operating lease of Garden State Park in Cherry Hill. The new partnership, called Pennwood, was expected to pursue off-track and account wagering in New Jersey. Garden State Park closed in 2002, and was razed shortly thereafter. Simulcasting on cable broadcasting systems (notably those owned by Comcast) was discontinued in March 2010, and shortly replaced by Comcast with TVG Network, who later joined with Harrah's Chester to bring their own simulcasting betting accounts in October 2010.
On August 30, the track was rechristened as Parx Racing and Casino.
Over the years, such notable horses as Shuvee, My Juliet, Spectacular Bid, Revidere, Summer Squall, and Broad Brush found their way to the winner's circle at Parx Racing and Casino. The track became famous as the original home of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion Smarty Jones, who placed second in the Belmont Stakes, narrowly missing the Triple Crown.
In November 2014, it was revealed that Parx was requiring jockeys to sign a waiver as a condition of riding there. It is believed that the waiver stemmed from a court judgement against Parx in favor of the family of Mario Calderon, an exercise rider who suffered fatal injuries in an incident on the Parx backstretch in 2010. The judgement required Parx to pay Calderon's family $7.8 million in damages. The Jockeys' Guild said that the waiver contained language "inconsistent with the laws of Pennsylvania" and it would instruct its members against signing it.
In 2017, Parx hosted the fourth annual Jockeys and Jeans fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The fundraiser has raised more than $650,000 with the goal of raising $200,000 in 2017. The event was previously held in Tampa Bay Downs, Indiana Grand and Gulfstream Park.
On March 19, 2018, a major accident occurred during the 9th race, in which hall of fame jockey Jose Flores was sent to a hospital following the incident. It was announced that he would be placed on life support a day later. The horse however had to undergo animal euthanasia. Flores was pronounced dead on March 22, 2018 at 12:42 pm.
Pennsylvania Derby and Fitz Dixon Cotillion
Parx Racing and Casino is the home of Pennsylvania's two premier Thoroughbred races, the $1 million (as of 2019) Grade I Pennsylvania Derby and the $1 Million Grade I Fitz Eugene Dixon Cotillion Handicap. The Pennsylvania Derby (which first served as a Memorial Day replacement for the Jersey Derby after the original grandstand at Garden State Park was destroyed by a fire in 1977), was held on Labor Day until 2010 when the race was moved to the last Saturday in September. This brought it closer to the Breeders' Cup World Championships. The Pennsylvania Derby is a 1.125 miles (1.811 km) (nine furlongs) race for three-year-olds that has consistently attracted quality fields and large crowds. Over the past few years, it has evolved into a three-day festival that lasts all of Labor Day weekend at the racetrack, culminating with the running of the Derby. The festival has now become a month-long event that features the annual "Owners and Pennsylvania Day at the Races" the Saturday after Labor Day, and a new US$300,000 preliminary event on Labor Day named the "Smarty Jones." (This race was not run in 2006 because of the rebuilding of the main grandstand as a "racino".)
The Cotillion, which has been run since Thoroughbred racing began in Pennsylvania in 1969 at the old Liberty Bell Park in Northeast Philadelphia, is a 1.0625 miles (1.7099 km) (Eight and a half furlong) race. It is held (as of 2010) on the first Saturday in October as part of a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity with races featuring female jockeys called "Parx Racing Ladies Day at the Races"
The main grandstand's lower floor was reconstructed back into a horse racing facility in September 2010.
The track's announcer was Keith Jones. Mr. Jones began his announcing career at Garden State Park as an assistant in the summer of 1985. He took over the full-time duties at Philadelphia Park in 1987. He also spent 13 years as the public address announcer for the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League and has had the chance to call a handful of games for the parent club, the Philadelphia Flyers. In addition, Mr. Jones serves as host of the TV program, "Let's Go Racing," a 30-minute show featuring highlights of local racing and major, national stakes. He is a member of the track's Hall of Fame, inducted with the inaugural class in September 2011. Jones retired on December 30, 2020.
The Pennsylvania State Fair was held at the racetrack annually from 1987 to 2006. In 2002, the track hosted the Claiming Crown of horse racing.
On September 27, 2006, the racetrack was awarded a conditional slots license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, allowing construction to begin on the casino. Final approval of a permanent license came on December 20, 2006, and the following day the casino opened. Bally's was chosen as the casino management system. The name of the casino - "Parx" - a modified spelling of the racetrack name - was unveiled following a fireworks display on July 4, 2009.
The plan for the 430-acre (170 ha) site:
- Phase 1: Renovation of the Grandstand, building of the Parx Casino. (Complete; opened December 18, 2009)
- Last Phase: Renovation of paddock. (Complete; opened in May 2010)
Parx has over 3,200 slot machines. Electronic table games, such as roulette and blackjack, and video poker are also available. On December 18, 2009, the casino building opened, with 3,300 slot machines. On July 18, 2010, the casino began operating table games. Parx has 188 tables, offering games including blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat.
Parx East, featuring card games, held its ribbon cutting ceremony on December 22, 2010. Parx East became the new name of the grandstand with gambling returning to that building. Gaming was now divided between two buildings on the Parx complex.
In January 2018, the Xcite Center and adjacent brand new poker room featuring over 48 tables opened in the main casino building as part of a $50 million expansion; poker was previously in the Parx East building. The poker room opened on January 11, 2018 while the Xcite Center opened on January 13, 2018.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a sports betting license for Parx on October 3, 2018. On November 2, 2018, Parx announced plans for a $10 million project that will construct a sportsbook called Parx Sportsbook, with a planned opening date of 2019. In the meantime, the casino operated a temporary sportsbook in the space of the Club 360 bar. Sports betting at Parx began on January 8, 2019 with a soft opening; the formal grand opening occurred on January 10, 2019. The permanent 7,400-square-foot (690 m2) sportsbook opened on August 8, 2019, which consists of a 156-foot (48 m) HD media wall that can show 36 games at once, 200 seats, a bar, 3 VIP areas, 6 teller windows, and 18 automated kiosks. Sports betting is available on multiple sports including NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, college football, college basketball, golf, soccer, and MMA. Parx launched an online sports betting app on June 24, 2019.
On July 15, 2019, Parx conducted a soft launch for online gambling, with the full launch occurring on July 18, 2019 after a testing period. Online gambling offered by Parx consists of slot machines and table games, with online poker to launch at a later date.
Dining and entertainment
- The Lucky Cheese
- Bambu Noodle House
- Liberty Bell Gastropub
- Chickie's & Pete's
- Club 360 (temporarily closed)
- Liberty Bell Beer Garden
- Paddock Grill (at Parx East)
- Circle Bar (at Parx East)
The Xcite Center is an event center at Parx that hosts concerts, entertainment performances, comedy acts, and boxing and MMA matches. The event center has an area of 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) and seats over 1,500 people. The Xcite Center opened on January 13, 2018 with a sold-out concert by Chicago.
The track has a 1 mile (1.6 km) dirt oval and a 7 furlong - .875 miles (1.408 km) - turf oval.
The following stakes are run at Parx Racing and Casino in 2019:
Parx Racing offers off-track betting at two locations, which offer betting on horse races from around the world along with sports betting. The South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook is located in South Philadelphia near the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. The Oaks Race & Sportsbook is located in Oaks.
- Hegarty, Matt (November 6, 2014). "Parx indemnity waiver draws ire of Jockeys' Guild". drf.com. Daily Racing Form. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
- "Parx will host fundraiser for Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund | Daily Racing Form". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
- Brooks, Bob (December 30, 2020). "Announcer Keith Jones retires from Parx Racing after a legendary 34-year career". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
- "Inqlings: Tango Traffic green-lights first on-air hires".
- "Bally Technologies Signs Deal With Philadelphia Park & Parx Casino". Casino City Times. August 16, 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- Parmley, Suzette (December 18, 2009). "BREAKING NEWS: Parx Casino opens doors in Bensalem". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on December 20, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- "Casino". Parx Casino. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
- Parmley, Suzette (July 18, 2010). "Table games debut at Parx, Harrah's Chester". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- "Parx Casino cuts ribbon on new addition". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. December 22, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Vineburg, Andy (January 14, 2018). "Chicago gets Parx Casino's new Xcite Center off to rousing start". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Maykuth, Andrew (October 3, 2018). "Pa. approves first sports-betting licenses for Parx, Hollywood casinos". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- Staff (November 2, 2018). "Parx announces $10 million sports-betting expansion". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- Maykuth, Andrew (January 8, 2019). "Parx becomes second Philly casino to launch sports betting". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- McGinnis, James (January 10, 2019). "Parx opens sports betting in time for Eagles-Saints matchup". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
- Menno, Christian (August 6, 2019). "Parx Casino to unveil new Sportsbook". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
- "Sports Betting". Parx Casino. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Maykuth, Andrew (June 24, 2019). "Parx becomes 2nd Pa. casino to launch internet sports betting". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
- Maykuth, Andrew (July 15, 2019). "Parx, SugarHouse, Hollywood casinos set to launch online gambling this week". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
- "Online gambling now available around the clock in Pennsylvania". USA Today. Associated Press. July 18, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
- "Dining". Parx Casino. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
- "Entertainment". Parx Casino. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
- "Xcite Center". Parx Casino. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- "The Turf Clubs". Parx Racing. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- "South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook". Parx Racing. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
- "Oaks Race & Sportsbook". Parx Racing. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
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