Parx Race and Sportsbook opens first licensed sports betting outlet in Chester County

Pete Ciarrochi speaks during a press conference

Pete Ciarrochi, founder of Chickie’s & Pete’s, said the opening of the Race & Sportsbook betting parlor was historic. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, sports betting and horse-race wagering have reached the Main Line. Greenwood Racing officials cut the ribbon Wednesday before patrons at the company’s “brand-new model” Parx Race and Sportsbook location in Malvern.

The operation, inside a new Chickie’s and Pete’s, is being touted as the first race and sports book to open inside a restaurant or sports bar in the country. It’s also the first licensed gaming outlet in Chester County.

“We’re happy to be able to come from Bucks County, which is home to us, and bring this over to Chester County,” said Marc Oppenheimer, chief marketing officer of Greenwood Gaming.

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Marc Oppenheimer, Chief Marketing Officer for Greenwood Racing Inc., owners and operators of Parx Casino, thanks Chickie’s & Pete’s for their partnership on a new Race & Sportsbook in Malvern, Pa., on February 9, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“And the partnership with Pete [Ciaccrocchi, founder of Chickie’s and Pete’s] has been great. Malvern has been a great host community for us, and we’re looking forward to being able to bring a good time to the community.”

Patrons can bet on all major sports leagues and horse races. The venue uses a combination of live tellers and automated kiosks.

“Inside a great sports bar, it really provides the guest an opportunity to come in, get a great meal, get a drink, watch games, and by the way, put some action on the games as well,” Oppenheimer said.

A worker speaks with a customer at Parx Casino
Chickie’s & Pete’s and Parx Casino opened a Race & Sportsbook on the first day of legal sports betting at their Malvern, Pa. restaurant in Chester County on Feb. 9, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This partnership between the restaurant chain and the gambling company has been in the works for almost six years. The Malvern Chickie’s and Pete’s had its grand opening last week. Earlier this week, the site underwent testing by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

At Wednesday afternoon’s opening of Parx Race and Sportsbook, bettors were already lining up to place a bet on Super Bowl LVI.

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Matt Rynkiewicz, 33, has the Cincinnati Bengals winning the NFL’s championship game — and he came all the way from Scranton to make that bet after hearing about the new venue on sports talk radio WIP.

Legal sports gambling has become somewhat of a hobby for him on the weekends, Rynkiewicz said. He thought the idea of having a sportsbook inside a restaurant was great, so he wanted to come and see.

Matt Rynkiewicz stands outside a casino
Matt Rynkiewicz was one of the first to place a bet at the new Race & Sportsbook in Malvern. His money’s on the Bangles to win the Super Bowl. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“I like going to restaurants, plus it’s like a casino that’s not at a casino. You know what I mean? The same kind of atmosphere … I thought it would be great to stop down and take a look. And then March Madness is right around the corner. So me and my cousin are going to probably take a trip down now, and that way we could bet on the college games,” Rynkiewicz said.

He said you just might see him hanging out and taking advantage of a daily special.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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