Two New OTB Facilities Set for Public Hearings

Plans and schedules have firmed up for two additional off-track betting facilities in Maryland that combined are projected to generate more than $1 million a year for the Thoroughbred purse account.

The Maryland Racing Commission Sept. 11 will hold a hearing regarding an OTB facility at MGM National Harbor Casino that has been in the works for months. Another hearing will be held Sept. 20 on plans to put a betting parlor in a hotel just off Interstate 270 in Frederick.

Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said the National Harbor OTB outlet could open as soon as Sept. 12. The casino is located about three miles from Rosecroft Raceway, the MJC-owned harness track that also serves as a year-round simulcast facility.

It will take longer to get the Frederick facility up and running, though plans call for it to open this fall. Sinatra said it will be the first MJC-operated OTB parlor in a hotel and conference center. “The hotel gets lots of groups,” Sinatra said. “We’re interested in seeing how our business plays out in a hotel. It would replace the Cracked Claw, which did really well when it was open.”

The Cracked Claw, which closed in the fall of 2011, was located about 10 minutes south of Frederick. Open about 10 months that year, the restaurant had pari-mutuel handle of almost $14 million.

The betting area at National Harbor is roughly 2,000 square feet, about the same size as the one at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. It’s located on the second floor near the poker room and a smoking patio.

Sinatra told the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association during its Aug. 28 Board of Directors meeting that the two new OTB outlets could generate $1.2 million to $1.5 million for purses in a full year of operation. The MTHA board, which approved the National Harbor plan earlier, at the meeting voted unanimously in support of the Frederick OTB facility.

Both will operate under a model by which the MJC, MTHA and the OTB owner share equally in revenue and expenses. The model has been in place at Horseshoe Casino, the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, Boonsboro Event Center, and Greenmount in Hampstead.

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