Will Pechanga’s Off-Track Betting Boost Del Mar’s Dwindling Handle?

Del Mar race track

Pechanga Casino in Temecula, CA launched its new off-track betting area just in time. Del Mar Racetrack began its summer racing program on July 19. Pechanga launched its horse wagering area on the same day.

This is now the fifth facility in the area to offer betting besides the local race tracks.

Pechanga horse betting offers multiple tracks to wager on

The new betting area is part of Pechanga’s poker room. It features TVs broadcasting action from several different race tracks. Pechanga accepts bets on Del Mar as well as other tracks, like Parx. Additionally, there are desks and chairs for bettors intent on staying a while.

Surprisingly, the facility is non-smoking.

The other off-track betting facilities in the area are:

  • Finish Line Sports Grill in Pomona
  • National Orange Show in San Bernadino
  • Lake Elsinore Hotel and Casino
  • Lake Perris Sports Pavilion

Pechanga’s management team hopes the additional draw of horse wagering will help bolster poker room action.

“There’s a synergy,” Mike May, vice-president of table operations, told Pechanga.net.

The California Horse Racing Board authorized the new Pechanga facility. The group can actually authorize nearly 50 satellite betting areas. However, so far, they have only rubber stamped 12.

Del Mar trying to rebound after rough season

The entire horse racing industry is coping with a decline in interest for the sport. Del Mar also had a rough year last year. The track drew criticism for the unusually high number of horse deaths at the track.

Opening day on July 19 was not the best omen that things were turning around for the California track. There were 34,128 people in the crowd, making it the track’s smallest opening day since 2001.

“If I’m going to have to make excuses for 30-some-thousand people being at the track, I’m at a loss,” Joe Harper, president and CEO of Del Mar told the Daily Racing Form. “This is one of those crowds that’s all social driven. I’m delighted to get that crowd.”

The track’s season debut is not out of line with other California tracks. Santa Anita drew 46,514 for its December opening and 36,000 for its Santa Anita Derby.

While Pechanga’s off-track site will not help with attendance, it could help improve the take at the track. For Opening Day, Del Mar’s handle was $14.2 million compared to $16.3 million last year.

Off-track wagering just a small part of larger Pechanga expansion

The new off-track betting area is done, but there is still plenty of work to do before the tribal casino’s $285 million expansion is finished. In April construction crews topped out the cement on the structure that will become the new 14-story hotel tower.

The expansion will make Pechanga a true resort rather than just a casino. There will be over 560 rooms, 13 restaurants, a giant pool area, spa, and a multitude of other features once the project is complete. The tribal casino also announced an expansion of its RV park.

Pechanga is already one of the largest tribal casinos in Southern California. It already had a bigger gaming floor than competitor Morongo, with 188,000 square feet to Morongo’s 148,000 square feet. When the renovation is complete, Pechanga will rival Morongo in most of the amenity categories as well.

Photo by Sherry V Smith / Shutterstock.com

Jessica Welman

About

A graduate of USC and Indiana University, Jessica Welman has long been involved in the poker industry. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and as the managing editor for WSOP.com.