Pennsylvania legalized harness and thoroughbred horse race wagering in the 1960s. Now, betting on the ponies is as popular in Pennsylvania as almost anywhere else in the United States.
In fact, there are six live horse racing facilities in the state. Additionally, there is harness racing at 16 agricultural county fairs.
Each live horse racing facility is also home to casino gaming with a variety of slots and table games.
The list of horse racing facilities in Pennsylvania includes:
- Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester (Harness)
- Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville (Thoroughbred)
- The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington (Harness)
- Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem (Thoroughbred)
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre (Harness)
- Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie (Thoroughbred)
Most of these facilities also offer simulcast and off-track betting. Additionally, there are a number of off-track betting facilities across the state, run independently and by the casino and racing facilities themselves.
Horse betting apps
Additionally, the state allows residents to bet on horse races online and through horse racing apps. Well known horse race wagering sites available for betting in PA include:
- TVG – The top horse race TV and online horse betting app in the country.
- NYRA Bets – The New York Racing Association’s online wagering site.
- Bet America – A Kentucky-based horse race wagering platform
- TwinSpires – Churchill Downs’ horse racing app and the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby.
- DRFBets – The online betting platform of the Daily Racing Form.
The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission and its Bureaus of Thoroughbred and Standardbred Racing were formed in 2016 to govern the sport in PA. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The Commission is committed to investing in PA horse racing and developing the state’s reputation as a top place to breed, train, and race horses.
Parx Casino and Racing
The horse racing track at Parx Casino and Racing first opened in 1974 as Keystone Park. However, it was renamed Philadelphia Park in 1984 and became Parx Racing and Casino in 2009. The track features a one-mile dirt main track and a seven-furlong turf course. Live Thoroughbred racing is held all year long.
The top races run at Parx Casino and Racing include the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes. Both events are held in September.
Additionally, the casino at Parx Casino and Racing is the top-grossing casino on the state.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
Penn National Race Course first opened in 1972. However, casino gaming was added and the facility became Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in 2008.
It features live Thoroughbred racing all year round. There is a one-mile main track and a seven-furlong turf course.
Top races at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course include the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup and the $500,000 Penn Mile.
Presque Isle Downs & Casino
Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie is one of the state’s newest horse racing facilities. It opened the only synthetic surface track in the state in 2007.
The one-mile oval track is made of Tapeta, which is a mix of sand, rubber, fiber, and wax, meant to hold up in bad weather.
However, the live Thoroughbred racing season runs May through October.
The track’s top races include The Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes, Presque Isle Mile, and Tom Ridge Stakes.
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Mohegan Sun Pocono houses a 5/8 mile harness racing track. Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe owns and operates the facility as well as several off-track betting locations throughout the state.
However, the Tribe actually purchased the original Pocono Downs racetrack from Penn National Gaming in 2005. It renamed the property Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, renovated, and opened up the state’s first slots casino there in 2006. It is now Mohegan Sun Pocono.
The harness racing season at Mohegan Sun Pocono runs March through November. Additionally, the biggest racing event at the track is its Breeders Crown series.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack hosts live harness racing from April through December annually. The 5⁄8 mile racetrack has a limestone-based surface. Additionally, the midpoint of the track features a bridge hanging over the Delaware River.
Then called Harrah’s Chester, the first racing season at the track kicked off in the fall of 2006. However, the casino on the property did not open until January 2007.
In 2012, Harrah’s Chester became Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack to try to attract the larger Philadelphia market nearby.
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack currently runs 150 live race days each year. Top racing events at the track include its Pennsylvania Stallion Series.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino home to a standardbred harness racing track that opened in 1963 as the first parimutuel horse racing track in the state. Live racing runs almost all year-round on the standard 5/8 mile oval track. In fact, there are over 200 racing days annually at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
Additionally, the facility is just 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.
The track surface originally used a synthetic material called Tartan. It is now stone dust.
The top races at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino include the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids, plus the Pennsylvania Fair Finals and Keystone Classic in October.