Meadows Ready For Retail, But DraftKings’ Pennsylvania Launch On Hold

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The Meadows Racetrack & Casino is preparing to open its retail sportsbook Tuesday, but bettors awaiting DraftKings’ Pennsylvania launch as its online partner will have a longer wait.

Instead, DraftKings will likely seek approval of its interactive sports wagering license at a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board meeting on Oct. 30, officials from the Meadows said at the PGCB’s meeting Wednesday morning in Harrisburg.

DraftKings, a leading operator of online/mobile sports wagering in New Jersey, has a Pennsylvania license to operate a fantasy sports site but is not yet approved for sports wagering. At a brief hearing on the Meadows sports wagering petition, no information was given for why DraftKings was not yet ready to obtain its sports betting license.

DraftKings will have no role in the Meadows bricks-and-mortar operation, which will be run by Penn Sports Interactive, a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming Inc. like the Meadows property itself. The retail sportsbook also involves a partnership agreement with Kambi, the European-based sports betting company that already plays a key role at three Pennsylvania sportsbooks, including the Rivers Casino, the Meadows’ prime competitor 30 miles away.

Soft launch plans

Meadows General Manager Tony Frabbiele said the intent, assuming approval from PGCB staff, is to have a soft launch of the sportsbook Oct. 8-9 with the formal, permanent opening with participation of local sports celebrities on Oct. 10. He described a $1.4 mm project renovating the former Vibe bar area that is in the rear center of the Washington County casino.

The sportsbook will be non-smoking, have 17 TV screens, five betting windows, and eight betting kiosks, with another 10 self-serve kiosks spread around the casino. It will provide 11 full-time and six part-time jobs.

“It’s an important amenity for our guests and something we need to be competitive,” Chris Rogers, senior vice president of corporate development for Penn National Gaming, said of the sportsbook.

With growth of legalized sports betting around the country in various states in which Penn National operates, he said the company expects to eventually become one of two or three largest sportsbook operators in the nation.

With the addition of the Meadows, Pennsylvania will have 10 retail sportsbooks in operation at casinos, plus two at off-track betting locations of Parx Casino.

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press.

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