Back on track

Off-track bet­ting re­turns to Ce­cil County

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Mary­land Jockey Club opened 29 bet­ting car­rels in­side Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville at noon Mon­day, mark­ing the first time off-track bet­ting has been of­fered in the county since 2013.

This is the sec­ond time the Mary­land Jockey Club

PER­RYVILLE

has op­er­ated an off-track bet­ting par­lor in Ce­cil County, hav­ing op­er­ated one at Poor Jimmy’s restau­rant in North East for nearly 15 years be­fore its clo­sure.

“We’re ex­cited to be open in time to simul­cast the Breeder’s Cup World Cham­pi­onship live from Santa Anita Park in Ar­ca­dia, Calif., this Fri­day and Satur­day,” said Deb­o­rah ProMar­shall, di­rec­tor of OTB op­er­a­tions for the jockey

club. “This plan is a part­ner­ship be­tween the jockey club, casino and the horse­men and breed­ers.”

Sev­eral pa­trons were wait­ing to be the first to use the new equip­ment when the car­rels opened on Mon­day, and Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville staff is ex­pect­ing a large crowd for the week­end races.

The OTB area at Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville is lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the casino’s eight poker ta­bles and the Sun­set Bar. It fea­tures 23 large screen tele­vi­sions, along with the in­di­vid­ual 29 bet­ting car­rels, which are set up to al­low cus­tomers to view more than one race at a time.

Live tell­ers are avail­able to take pa­trons’ bets seven days a week from noon un­til 9:30 p.m. and later on week­ends. Au­to­mated teller ma­chines are avail­able for bet­ting any­time.

“We see this as an ad­di­tional amenity for our pa­trons to en­joy,” Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville Gen­eral Man­ager Matthew Heiskell said. “It is also a change of pace for our nor­mal slot and ta­ble op­er­a­tions.”

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, Sal Si­na­tra, pres­i­dent and CEO of Mary­land Jockey Club, told the Ce­cil County Coun­cil in early Septem­ber.

“Con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates pre­dict that Hol­ly­wood Casino could pro­duce a $10 mil­lion han­dle,” Si­na­tra added.

Af­ter ex­penses and pay­outs, that would give each of the three part­ners — the Jockey Club, Horse­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion and Hol­ly­wood Casino — about $430,000 an­nu­ally. Poor Jimmy’s bet­ting han­dle went from a high of about $18 mil­lion to about $8 mil­lion by the time it closed in 2013.

“We see an op­por­tu­nity here,” Si­na­tra said. “This would be good for rac­ing.”

In a sep­a­rate project, Hol­ly­wood Casino just re­ceived ap­proval from the Mary­land Lot­tery and Gam­ing Com­mis­sion to in­stall 14 slot ma­chines in their cur­rent out­door smok­ing area, which is a cov­ered area near the rear of the casino.

This con­ver­sion re­quires spe­cial bases that pro­vide heat­ing and cool­ing for the ma­chines, ac­cord­ing to Shonette Carew, mar­ket­ing and in­for­ma­tion di­rec­tor at Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville. She es­ti­mates that the out­door ma­chines will be in­stalled by the end of the year.

Smok­ing is pro­hib­ited in­doors at all of Mary­land’s casi­nos.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Sev­eral off-track bet­ting fans were ready on Mon­day when Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville opened its new OTB sec­tion.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Jockey Vic­tor Espinoza, atop Amer­i­can Pharoah, left, flashes a thumbs up af­ter win­ning the Preak­ness Stakes in May 2015. Bet­tors will be able to catch the Preak­ness Stakes live next year at Hol­ly­wood Casino af­ter off-track bet­ting made its re­turn Mon­day.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Cus­tomers place bets Mon­day at Hol­ly­wood Casino Per­ryville’s new off-track bet­ting area.

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