01/09/2015 5:38PM

Atlantic City Race Course to close permanently

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Greenwood ACRA announced Friday that Atlantic City Race Course, which has primarily operated as a simulcast center since 1999, will close permanently Jan. 16.

Atlantic City Race Course opened in 1946 with a star-studded group of investors that included Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Harry James, Sammy Kaye, and Xavier Cugat. The advent of casino gambling in the 1970s in Atlantic City – about 12 miles away on the coast – hurt the track’s business, and it ran its last full meet in 1998. At the time, the track was owned by Robert Levy, whose father, Leon Levy, was an original investor.

In 2001, the track was sold to Greenwood Racing, the owners of Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia.

In order to keep its racing license, operate as a simulcast center, and remain eligible for alternative forms of gambling if they were ever approved at New Jersey racetracks, Atlantic City has run five-day, turf-only meets in recent years. Its dirt track has not been maintained, and its crumbling grandstand has been fenced off from the public for years.

“We regret to announce that we must close Atlantic City Race Course immediately due to continuous business decline in the industry, the current regional economic climate, and the absence of alternative revenue opportunities,” said Joe Wilson, president of Greenwood ACRA.

Winning tickets can be cashed at Atlantic City Race Course until Jan 16. After that date, winning tickets may be cashed at Favorites at Vineland OTW.