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Sports betting debuts in South Philly near stadiums

Parx Race and Sports Book officially opened at the South Philadelphia Turf Club.

Sports betting officially debuted as Parx Race and Sports Book at the South Philadelphia Turf Club, 700 Packer Ave — the first legalized sports gambling business in South Philly. For the past six weeks, the turf club underwent roughly one million dollars worth of aesthetic and technological renovations, including the installation of nine new sports betting kiosks. (GRACE MAIORANO/South Philly Review)

Although we won’t see a second Super Bowl title this year, the city has something else to offer sports enthusiasts.

On Thursday, sports betting officially debuted as Parx Race and Sports Book at the South Philadelphia Turf Club, 700 Packer Ave. — the first legalized sports gambling business in South Philly.

Located a hop, a skip and a jump away from the South Philadelphia Sports Complex — home to the city’s professional teams — audiences can bet on games unfolding down the block.

“We’re across the street from Citizens Bank Park. We’re no more than a couple blocks from the Linc and Wells Fargo Center,” said Marc Oppenheimer, the chief marketing officer for Greenwood Gaming, the parent company of Parx Casino and the South Philadelphia Turf Club. “So, we’re really right here in the hub of where the sports activity in Philadelphia takes place.”

Following the Supreme Courts’ 2018 decision to strike down a 1992 federal law banning commercial sports betting in the majority of states, the games have been popping up around Pennsylvania since November. Legal betting in the state alone raised more than $17 million throughout November and December of 2018, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Last week, the main Parx Casino in Bensalem opened its race and sports book to the public as well. Following two testing days with the gaming control board this past week, the South Philly Turf Club site was authorized to start its own betting on Wednesday evening.

“Just imagine the people that are going to be going to a Flyers, Sixers game, stop by, bet on the Flyers, against the Flyers…and then go to the game, watch it, then come here and cash it after they win,” said player Giorgio Wagner of Warrington. “That’s pretty cool.”

For the past six weeks, the turf club underwent roughly $1 million worth of aesthetic and technological renovations, including the installation of nine new sports betting kiosks.

Shortly after the official ribbon cutting, gamers were ready to place their bets. (GRACE MAIORANO/South Philly Review)

The revamped space added more jobs to the South Philly Turf Club, as staff was supplemented for dining, security and gambling.

Currently, there are no exact estimates regarding how much revenue the new race and sports book will generate in South Philadelphia.

“We’re really waiting to see what ends up happening down here. We think there’s significant potential, and we obviously know, for many years, there have been ways to bet on sports in South Philadelphia,” Oppenheimer said. “Now, there’s a legal way to bet on sports in South Philadelphia. So, our biggest question is — how much of the people that have been placing bets on their own for years are going to migrate over to this, because it’s legalized and easy.”

Not only can bets be made at games at local stadiums, but players can wager on professional athletic competitions across the world.

In the United States, the gambling books encompass the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, college football, college basketball, tennis, golf, boxing, mixed martial arts and more. But, bets can also be placed on teams of other continents, including countries in Europe and Asia.

On the day of the ribbon cutting, action was already on the 2019 Australian Open.

And for South Philly residents, such international gambles can be made right in their backyard.

“Nobody has to go to Jersey to bet, they can do it right here,” said general manager and South Philly resident Tracy Trainor. “Come see something exciting and new and make a bet.”

Follow Grace on Twitter at @gracemaiorano.

Grace can be reached at gmaiorano@newspapermediagroup.com

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