Off-track betting may return to Cecil
Club targets Hollywood Casino location
— Off-track betting may be returning to Cecil County, but this time to Perryville, not North East.
The Maryland Jockey Club had previously operated an off-track betting parlor at Poor Jimmy’s restaurant in North East for nearly 15 years but on Tuesday, Sal
Sinatra, its president and CEO, told the Cecil County Council that an application is pending before the Maryland Racing Commission to open a satellite simulcast betting area inside the Hollywood Casino at Perryville.
“We’d like to be open by Oct. 22 for the Maryland Million race,” he told officials.
But, first they must conduct a public hearing on the proposal, which is set for Oct. 5 at the casino in Perryville. Signs and advertisements will be posted, Sinatra noted.
Despite the club’s history at Poor Jimmy’s, Deborah Pro-Marshall, director of OTB operations for the jockey club, said that the Perryville operation would be different.
“This plan is a partnership between the jockey club, casino and the horsemen and breeders,” she said.
It’s also part of the Maryland Jockey Club’s bigger plan to resurrect off-track betting in Maryland and bring more financial stability
to horse racing in partnership with casinos and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
The club opened off-track betting at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore and at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium last year and both those locations are on target to produce about a $13 to $15 million handle, or total value of bets placed, Sinatra said.
Conservative estimates predict that Hollywood Casino could produce a $10 million handle, Sinatra said, which after expenses and payouts would give each of the three partners — the Jockey Club, Horsemen’s Association and Hollywood Casino — about $430,000 annually.
“We see an opportunity here,” Sinatra said. “This would be good for racing.”
The idea has support from County Executive Tari Moore and the county council, who agreed Tuesday to send a letter of support to the Maryland Racing Commission.
“I support this,” Councilwoman Joyce Bowlsbey said.
Council Vice President Alan McCarthy also said he was in favor of the proposal with Cecil County Director of Administration Al Wein adding that Moore supports it as well.
“She thinks is will promote sustainability of the Hollywood Casino at Perryville,” Wein told the council.
Tentative plans call for installing television screens and individual betting carols along with some high- top tables in a roughly 800- square- foot area of the casino that is currently used for poker tables, which will be relocated.
“We can set the whole thing up in a couple of days,” said Pro- Marshall, who used to run the OTB parlor at Poor Jimmy’s.
She said Poor Jimmy’s betting handle went from a high of about $ 18 million to about $ 8 million when it closed in 2013.
Jockey Victor Espinoza, atop American Pharoah, left, flashes a thumbs up after winning The Preakness Stakes in May 2015. Off-track betting could soon be returning to the Cecil County.