The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission reported June 29 that during investigations conducted over the previous month there were no substantive medication violations at Parx Racing or Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, the two in-state Thoroughbred tracks which are conducting live racing currently.
The findings are in sharp contrast to those reported at the May 25 commission meeting, when the commission publicly revealed there was what was termed a “significant amount of contraband” discovered during a raid carried out on the backside of Parx.
Tom Chuckas, the director of the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Bureau at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, said during Tuesday’s commission meeting held by video conference, “In the last month enforcement action was taken at Penn National and Parx, and it consisted of searches of barns, and of veterinary trailers. In addition, we did out-of-competition testing both at Penn National and at Parx and the preliminary results from these enforcement actions is there were very, very minor infractions. Nothing of substance.”
Chuckas added now that the pandemic restrictions are over and most of the staff is vaccinated the commission’s enforcement actions will be stepped up and will continue throughout the year for all the state’s Thoroughbred and harness tracks. Presque Isle Downs will begin its 2021 live Thoroughbred meet July 5.
In other news, the commission voted unanimously to approve the relocation of the Parx Oaks Race and Sports Book to a new site in Malvern, Pa., at the Chickie’s & Pete’s Sports Bar. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Joe Wilson, the COO of Parx, said during the presentation to commissioners that this is a revitalized OTB model so it offers an opportunity to attract new fans to the sport of horse racing and be a new source of tax revenue and purse money for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Wilson added that the traditional OTB model is not sustainable under current conditions.
Chickie’s & Pete’s is a very popular interactive sports bar business with an established customer base among its 12 locations in the greater Philadelphia area and New Jersey. Parx already is licensed for sports wagering, and only pari-mutuel racing and sports betting will be allowed at the new facility.
When a customer is using the Parx Racing App in the new OTB, it will be counted as an OTB bet and not an ADW bet. Initial projections call for $1 million in new revenue, $300,000 for purses, and $175,000 in pari-mutuel tax from this new site, and the plan is to expand to several more of these new-model OTBs in the state.