01/16/2013 4:17PM

Penn National to open off-track betting site near Philadelphia


Penn National Gaming Inc., the casino operator, plans to open an off-track betting facility in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, the company said on Wednesday.

The off-track betting facility will be located in Gloucester Township in New Jersey, near the Walt Whitman Bridge which crosses the Delaware River into Philadelphia. Penn National is a co-owner of Freehold Raceway, a harness track in southern New Jersey that has the rights to open four off-track betting parlors in the state.

The plans for the parlor, which will also offer food and beverage, comes 14 months after Penn National settled a lawsuit with its partner in Freehold, Greenwood Racing, the owner of Philadelphia Park. In 2010, Penn National alleged in a lawsuit that directors appointed to the board of Freehold’s parent company had blocked the company from opening an OTB in the Philadelphia area to protect its business at Philadelphia Park, which is now called Parx Racing. The suit was settled in October 2011, according to Chris McErlean, the vice president of racing at Penn National.

“As part of the settlement we received the rights to develop an off-track facility in Camden County,” McErlean said.

If the plans are approved by the state racing commission and local officials, the parlor will open by late summer, McErlean said. Penn National will be the sole owner of the facility, though Greenwood will have the option of buying into the operation “if certain benchmarks are hit,” McErlean said.