Meadows Racetrack and Casino relives its glory days
As the second raceway to capitalize on the parimutuel wagering frenzy of the early 1960’s, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino staked its claim as one of the early leaders in the Keystone State’s burgeoning thoroughbred landscape. Fast forward five decades later and the Meadows is still packing them in, only now it caters to a more diversified swatch of gamblers.
One of only a handful of tracks that boasts a year round racing schedule, the Meadows is renowned for its unconventional 5/8 mile stone dust oval – and less so for its tumultuous ownership history.
Suffice to say, that since first opening its front gates on June 28, 1963 the deed to Meadows Racetrack has been passed around like an old chew toy. From the Washington Trotting Association to the Ladbroke Group and even a Pittsburgh-based lawyer, owners would sometimes abandon their right to the casino before it had a chance to thrive under new management.
In 2006 Nevada-based upstart Cannery Casino Resorts would become Meadows fourth official owner, only to enter into a purchasing agreement with Crown Limited a year later. The deal would ultimately fall through however, and Cannery has retained ownership to this day.
It was under Cannery’s tutelage that the Meadows would once again taste the success it enjoyed back when it was one of the only players in town. Not hurting matters was the fact that around the same time Cannery took the reigns, Meadows was granted a Conditional Category 1 gaming license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
A temporary casino would open in June 2007, followed three months later by the saddening removal of the racetrack’s historic grandstand. But by April 2009 that despondency would be replaced by glee, as the Meadows held a grand opening for its 350,000 square-foot gaming paradise.
It wouldn’t be long (15 months) before the Meadows would expand its grand operation by introducing table games into the mix, in turn positioning itself as a player once again – this time in PA’s flourishing land-based casino market.
Meadows: Pittsburgh’s only Racino
Located in the Greater Pittsburgh area, just minutes from the intersection of heavily traversed Interstate Routes 79 and 70, the Meadows differentiates itself from neighboring Rivers Casino by being the only horseracing venue within reasonable distance of the city.
But that hardly means Meadows doesn’t hold its own in the gaming arena. Housing a staggering 3,500-plus slots machines and video poker terminals, Meadows pulled in upwards of $240 million in gross terminal revenue in fiscal 2012-2013. That was good for fifth among PA’s twelve recognized casinos, with only perennial powerhouses Sands, Parx, Harrah’s Philadelphia and Rivers touting higher tallies.
Meadows didn’t fare quite as well on the table games front, ranking ninth and raking in $110 million. But considering that casinos like Parx boast nearly as many poker tables as the Meadows does casino and poker tables combined, its comparatively paltry numbers are far more respectable than they initially appear.
Table Games spread at Meadows Racetrack and Casino
Not everyone fancies slots, which is why Meadows expanded its array of offerings to include traditional casino table games. Popular variants like Blackjack, Craps and Roulette dominate the casino floor. But those who enjoy peeling their own cards will be pleased to note that the Meadows hosts a plethora of gambler’s games such as Three Card Poker, Let it Ride, Texas Hold’em Bonus and Four Card Poker.
The Meadows is also notorious for its 11-table high-limit room. VIPs will indulge in an assortment of exclusive amenities including a premier lounge, butler service and access to a 3-game private gaming salon. Just don’t forget to bring you wallet – limits in the room range from a manageable $50 all the way up to a cool 15 grand.
Poker at Meadows is more tailored towards the casual fan than it is at competing casinos. Only one tournament on the menu features a buy-in higher than $95, and exclusive tournament series are few and far between.
There also doesn’t appear to be much in the way of player appreciation rewards, high-hand jackpots or special promotional events. That being said, the 14-table room does tout a six-figure bad beat jackpot quite regularly. Only problem is, when someone does finally hit it, it resets at zero.
About Cannery Casino Resorts
Cannery Casino Resorts hasn’t been in the game that long, but what it lacks in sagely wisdom, it more than makes for in its proven ability to develop and manage casinos.
Owned by Millennium Gaming and Oaktree Capital Management, the Spring Valley, Nevada-based company owns three casinos and manages a fourth. Its relationship with Meadows is unique in that it’s Cannery’s only casino located outside of Sin City.
The Meadows Advantage
Anyone who has been to Meadows has probably at least heard someone mention its most popular form of non-gambling entertainment: Meadows Lanes.
A 24-lane, fully modern, bowling alley featuring a generously stocked bar, banquet menu, flat screen TVs and enhanced audio, Meadows Lanes is the perfect escape for those tired of spewing off money at the poker tables. And compared to the cost of other casinos sporting bowling alleys, Meadows Lanes’ price-per-game tends towards the cheap side.
Those more hungry for food than action are encouraged to dine at one of Meadows’ two exclusive steakhouses, one of which allows customers to enjoy a fine cigar with their meal. For patrons on a budget, both Delvins Trackside and the casino Food Court offers an hodgepodge of affordable, quick options.
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