OC Tavern Finds Success with Horse Race Wagering

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Made even more popular by the new HBO series “Luck,” horse racing's fan base has grown.

San Clemente's OC Tavern, the only sports bar in California to offer satellite wagering for horse races, is seeing enormous success with its horse racing venture, which launched on Dec. 26, 2010. Made even more popular by the new critically acclaimed HBO series“Luck,” horse racing's fan base has grown substantially in the past few years.

“Our biggest thing is to teach people more about horse racing,” said OC Tavern owner Michael Merrigan. “This environment is more convenient and less overwhelming than walking into a race, and people love it. The energy in the room is incredible.”

From celebrated director Michael Mann and “Deadwood” creator David Milch, the new HBO series “Luck” brings the world of horse racing to life and delves into the lives of the owners, jockeys, gamblers and industry players. Staring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina among other stars, the show has put the spotlight on the sport of horse racing and sparked even more interest in OC Tavern's horse racing venture.

The OC Tavern racing room has 26 flat screen TVs and a separate bar, offering both self-serve wagering stations for more experienced betters and stations with clerks to provide assistance for those who need it. Broadcasting the top races from around the world on Wednesday through Sunday, admission and parking at the OC Tavern is free. The races are also available to watch in the restaurant and bar areas, as well as on an outdoor cigar patio.

The venture started after Michael's brother emailed him informing him of a new California law that expanded the types of places where people could place bets on horse races. OC Tavern is the only bar to take advantage of this law, getting approval from the city within 16 months.

Halfway in between the Del Mar and Los Alamitos race tracks, the OC Tavern typically attracts between 100 and 300 people on race days. The tavern earns 2 percent of the money wagered.

About OC Tavern

OC Tavern is a grill and sports bar located in San Clemente that features a full service restaurant, a game room, video DJs, live music, horse racing, special events and more. Learn more at OCTavern.com.


Michael Merrigan




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