As Pennsylvania’s gambling market took off in the last decade, one aspect of legal gambling in the Keystone State saw a decline in patronage. Off-track betting (OTB) facilities began closing due to a lack of interest from bettors.
The legalization of online gambling saw OTBs begin declining, to the extent that only two operate in Pennsylvania, whereas 25 years ago, there were 23. However, the status quo is about to see a significant turnaround.
What is an OTB?
An OTB is a sports betting facility where gamblers can bet on horseracing without visiting the track. It allows them to wager on races countrywide, watch the race on television and claim their winnings.
Experts believe that the PA online casino was the final nail in the OTB coffin. Bettors no longer had to visit seedy establishments to watch televised horseracing and place their wagers. While seven OTBs were operating pre-COVID, only two reopened once lockdown restrictions began easing in line with public health regulations.
How can online casinos rescue PA’s ailing OTB sector?
Although many people believe that online sports betting in Pennsylvania put OTBs out of business, they might be the sector’s saving grace. Online gambling sites have allowed most casinos to keep their doors open and continue turning a profit, and some operators are expected to open smaller satellite casinos later in 2021. These financial gains will fund the recovery of OTBs.
OTBs will now feature at brick-and-mortar casinos, sports bars, and other betting facilities, allowing it to make a well-deserved comeback. While many people invest in gold or bitcoin to make their fortune, others still believe that horserace betting can net them a substantial win, allowing them to make money fast.
New look OTBs
The notion of OTBs as standalone operations has been the sector’s downfall, and operators are looking to integrate them into other facilities. Parx Casino, a well-established presence in Pennsylvania, is looking at partnerships with the restaurant chain Chickie’s and Pete’s, hoping to include OTBs into their establishments. A branch of this restaurant already operates at Parx’s Bensalem casino in Bucks County.
Penn National is also exploring opening OTBs in Barstool sportsbooks, located at established casinos. New satellite casinos are opening in York and Berks Counties this year, too. The American casino operator hopes to use this approach to attract younger patrons to horseracing wagering. It is not currently a betting form popular with this demographic, but OTBs within sports betting operations may change this circumstance.
OTBs will no longer rely on horseracing alone to sustain themselves, becoming part of betting facilities that accept wagers on multiple sports. Together with good food and a wholesome atmosphere, new OTBs will differ significantly from their predecessors.