Exposing horse racing to more and more people is a key element in the Stronach Group’s plans for building Maryland horseracing into a premier sport in the country and a strong performer within the state.
A month ago, the Maryland Jockey Club released the news that its Export Signal’s handle figures in 2015 were up nearly 20 percent over the year before. Now, it is trying to expand the number of people who have access to those signals in the state and build a bigger fan base through the re-establishment and expansion of off track betting sites, or OTBs.
“The primary reason we’re doing this,” says MJC vice president and general manager Sal Sinatra, “is to build convenience for our customers and exposure to racing throughout the state.”
The MJC dipped its toe back in the OTB waters last May when it opened its first new site at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino leading up to Preakness week. That project has outperformed projections to this point, contributing $7 million in handle to last year’s coffers in about six months of operation.
Sinatra said in late January the popularity of the Horseshoe’s OTB continues and is now expected to produce $12 million in its first year, again beating pre-opening projections by at least $2 million. Now, OTB expansion is moving forward.
On Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m., the Maryland Racing Commission will hold an open hearing in the Mosner Miller building at the Timonium Fairgrounds (pictured) to listen to the MJC’s proposal for an OTB at the racetrack there. The meeting is designed to inform the MRC, area residents and legislators about the OTB project and give interested parties an opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions about the proposed facility.
David Richardson, MTHA Executive Director has commented that the Timonium OTB “is projected to generate over $500,000 annually for the Thoroughbred Purse Account.”
Sinatra and Richardson, along with other industry leaders, had a meeting with several area legislators Jan. 29 to inform them of the plans.
“I think there has been some misunderstanding about what an OTB is,” Sinatra says. “There is concern [in the surrounding community] that it is going to be a casino, which it won’t be and never will be.”
Sinatra said he sees the Timonium OTB which would be located on the second floor of the grandstand, near the newly remodeled restaurant, High Tops Grandstand Grill, as a place those coming to the fairgrounds throughout the year for various other activities will be able to utilize.
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