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And They’re Off! at Racinos

Long before there were slot machines, there was horse racing.

Large-scale casino resorts attract a lot of attention from travelers today, but gaming in America started with racetracks long before Las Vegas existed. Horse racing offers a mix of sport, pageantry and betting excitement that has been a part of the American entertainment scene for centuries.

Today, many of America’s racetracks have expanded beyond parimutuel betting to include a variety of options for guests. Some have added slot machines and video lottery, and others now feature full-service casinos on-site complete with table games, luxurious restaurants and overnight accommodations.

Here are five of these so-called racinos to consider for your group’s next trip.

Hoosier Park Racing and Casino

Anderson, Indiana

Hoosier Park, a little northeast of Indianapolis, is a racino with standardbred harness racing, casino gambling, entertainment, restaurants and a gift shop.

“We offer live harness racing April through November,” said Kiersten Flint, spokeswoman at the facility. “Our casino has 54,000 square feet of gaming space and 2,000 slot machines that are open 24/7 with play denominations ranging from just a penny up to $100.” For those who join the exclusive players club, Club Centaur, frequent cash drawings add to the excitement.

Also adding to the entertainment value of the complex are a 1,200-seat showroom and an outdoor music theater that can seat 5,000 to 6,000 guests. Many top musical acts have rocked the stages in recent years.

Groups are more than welcome at Hoosier Park.

“We host all kinds of them: families, friends, co-workers, you name it,” said Flint. “We have a lot of unique spaces for groups to use around the property, and we employ a great group sales team that works hard with the group leaders to tailor the perfect event for them.”  For added convenience, the racino also offers round-trip motorcoach transportation from outlying  Indiana cities such as Indianapolis, Lafayette and Fort Wayne.

Sometimes groups want some extra-special treatment while at the track or casino. For example, a tour of the track’s backside can be a fun behind-the-scenes experience for racing fans or the uninitiated.

“We can tailor each experience to just that particular group,” Flint said. “Our backside tours are quite extensive and often include intimate encounters with some of the horses and their trainers and owners.”

Remington Park Racing and Casino

Oklahoma City

Remington Park is a busy place year-round, with horse racing, casino gaming, festivals, parties, games and other special events that give visitors something unusual to do when they visit the complex.

When it comes to racing, the track has a lot of dates.

“We run two live racing seasons,” said Dale Day, the track’s announcer and communications manager. “We have an Appaloosa, Paint and quarter horse season from March to June — 50 days, usually. We take the summer off and come back the last week before Labor Day with the thoroughbred season and run to around Christmas. That is a 67-date schedule.” Aside from live racing, the track offers simulcast racing every day.

The casino boasts 750 state-of-the-art electronic gaming machines, though there are no table games. The casino underwent a major renovation last year.

Day said the complex will book many group events, parties and functions each year. Staff can section off large areas of the facility to accommodate guests in the hundreds. A variety of suites are also available. All types of groups use the facilities. “The bulk of it is local,” said Day. “We do racing parties, graduation, bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings and receptions, many family and other types of reunions, and corporate groups.”  The facility is known for accommodating groups’ wishes, so group planners need only ask to begin the dialogue.

Group participants are encouraged to join Club Remington. Members can earn points by playing in the casino, betting on horses, buying food or beverages in the restaurants and bars, and buying merchandise in the gift shop. Then points can be redeemed for free play in the casino and free bets on racing.

Dan Dickson

Dan has been a communicator all his professional life, first as an award-winning radio and TV news reporter for two decades and then as a communications director for several non-profits for another decade. He has contributed to The Group Travel Leader Inc. publications since 2007.