12/19/2006 12:00AM

Philadelphia Park slots open up


Philadelphia Park opened the doors to its new casino at 11:30oa.m. on Tuesday, welcoming what a track official said was a "steady stream of happy people" to the newest racino in the country.

"I can say that the slot machines are getting a pretty good workout," said Hal Handel, the general manager of Philadelphia Park, which is owned by Greenwood Racing. "We've been very busy all day long."

Philadelphia Park is one of seven Pennsylvania racetracks that were approved for slot machines by legislation passed in 2004, and it is the second racetrack-casino to open its doors in the state. On Nov. 14, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a harness track, became the first.

Philadelphia spent the past six months renovating the first two floors of the grandstand to make room for 2,000 machines. The track hopes to add an additional 1,000 machines over the next six months before applying for the right to operate a total of 5,000 machines.

Philadelphia Park's casino will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays, Handel said.

Under state law, horsemen and breeders will get 18 percent of the total net win from the machines. Forty-five percent goes to the racetracks that operate the machines, with the rest going to the state and local municipalities.

Philadelphia Park officials have said that the revenue from the machines could enable the track to raise purses to $500,000 a day, on par with the highest in the country. Purses at the track currently hover around $100,000 per day.