Back on track
Off-track betting returns to Cecil County
— 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
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.
Several off-track betting fans were ready on Monday when Hollywood Casino Perryville opened its new OTB section.
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.
Customers place bets Monday at Hollywood Casino Perryville’s new off-track betting area.