Parx, Presque Isle Celebrate Opening Their Pennsylvania Sportsbooks

Posted on: August 8, 2019, 11:59h. 

Last updated on: August 9, 2019, 02:10h.

On opposite ends of the state, two Pennsylvania casinos celebrated the grand opening of their retail sportsbooks on Thursday.

Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., spent $10 million to build a sportsbook one company executive described as an “ultimate game day location.” (Image: Parx Casino)

In Bensalem, near Philadelphia, Parx Casino cut the ribbon to showcase its new $10 million permanent sportsbook just a couple hours before the Philadelphia Eagles kicked off their NFL preseason schedule. About 300 miles to the northwest, Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie formally celebrated the opening of the state’s ninth sportsbook.

Presque Isle actually started taking bets late last month. But, like Parx, it wanted to take advantage of the first weekend of football games and draw a larger crowd. According to the Erie Times-News, about 100 people attended Thursday’s event.

Regional Approach for Presque Isle

Presque Isle got its start a little later than the state’s other retail books, which began as early as last November, and Erie’s metropolitan population is significantly smaller than either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. However, the track does have one advantage that it will look to leverage.

Erie is located roughly 100 miles from Cleveland, Ohio, which is home to three major professional sports teams and a significant portion of the Ohio State University fan base. While Cleveland also has casinos, none can offer sports betting, as the state legislature is still debating whether to legalize it.

So, it was hardly a coincidence that the guest list for Thursday’s event included Hanford Dixon. Dixon was a star defensive back 30 years ago for the Cleveland Browns, which has one of the most passionate fan bases in American sports.

We’re confident that the addition of the BetAmerica Sportsbook will help us draw an even larger crowd of sports fans and racing enthusiasts from across Pennsylvania and from surrounding states,” said Kevin O’Sullivan, Presque Isle’s vice president and general manager, in a statement.

O’Sullivan told the Erie Times-News that BetAmerica’s mobile sports betting application would likely be ready to launch in Pennsylvania by the end of the year.

Like Presque Isle, BetAmerica is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. The Louisville, Ky.-based gaming company bought the track in January and officially rolled out its sportsbook, which runs on SBTech’s platform, a month later.

Parx Builds ‘Destination’ Sportsbook

While Presque Isle looks to pull in a regional crowd, Parx finds itself in a crowded Philadelphia market. Not only does it have to compete with five other retail books in the market, but it also faces stiff competition from mobile apps in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

That’s why the casino invested in making its sportsbook an attraction. The 7,400-square-foot area can hold more than 420 sports fans. It features nearly 200 seats, with a 156-foot, high-definition media wall that can show up to 36 games at once.

Matthew Cullen, the senior vice president for interactive gaming and sports, said Parx wanted to build the “ultimate game day destination” for Eagles fans.

“We have worked for nearly two years to expand our portfolio of offerings to give patrons the best of all types of legalized gaming,” he said in a statement. “After the recent launch of online sports betting and our real money online casino, the grand opening of Parx Casino Sportsbook completes this mission.”

Since January, Parx has accepted about $39.5 million in sports wagers and generated nearly $4.5 million in taxable gross revenue. Those figures make it the No. 2 book in the Philly area behind the SugarHouse Casino.