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Playfair Happy With Eastern Hookup First Off-Track Betting Out Of State Encouraging, Gives Hope For More

Its first venture outside the state was a modest but encouraging success. Now the top officer at Playfair Race Course wants to send Spokane’s races into more tracks and off-track betting outlets in the East.

Playfair’s Sunday night program was picked up by the harness track at Northfield, Ohio, and by Philadelphia Park. Fans at the two outlets bet more than $20,000 on Playfair’s eight-race card, track CEO Don Johnson said Monday.

Playfair is exporting its signal out of state for the first time. Washington recently became the last state with significant thoroughbred racing to adopt full-card satellite wagering legislation.

The Spokane track handled $192,000 Sunday, including what Spokane bet on Emerald Downs and Del Mar, the two tracks Playfair imports to augment its on-site racing program.

That’s fine for starters, Johnson said.

The wagering handle is expected to grow when three other Pennsylvania tracks and their OTBs take Playfair’s Sunday and Monday night programs after Labor Day, when the Spokane track goes to four nights a week, Fridays through Mondays.

Johnson, whose connection with Philadelphia Park got Playfair in the door there, hopes in the coming weeks to link up with New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

One of a number of potential benefits is that local horse players may bet more here as wagering pools grow.

Fans at Playfair push an average of $44 a night through the mutuel windows, Johnson said. With larger betting pools, bigger wagers won’t lower odds and payoffs as they do on a typical night at Playfair.

The goal is to raise the on-site per capita to $80 or $90, Johnson said.

Adding Tuesday nights and dropping Fridays to pick up out-of-state business is a possibility the track will study, he added.

The trade-off is that Emerald Downs takes Playfair on Friday nights but the Auburn track is closed on Tuesdays. Emerald Downs currently handles more on Playfair than any other off-track site.

, DataTimes

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