The Maryland State Fairgrounds are set to add an off-track betting addition to their grandstands in Timonium. The new gaming floor, which will be installed on the second floor of the grandstands, after a turbulent process to get them approved. Obviously, the approval by the Maryland Jockey Club is a big step forward for gaming and live racing in the northern state.
The new casino was originally slated to be opened in late January, but was delayed after continued opposition from locals for the usual reasons. The Maryland Jockey Club was able to push through the approval by working with local groups. Sal Sinatra of the MJC spoke happily about the progress. “We are looking forward to opening our off-track betting facility in Timonium. We also look forward to continue building a strong relationship and partnership with the local community. We believe there’s tremendous potential in Maryland Thoroughbred racing and we want to build on its rich tradition. By growing our off-track network we hope to create convenience for our customers and exposure to racing throughout the state.”
It’s been a busy few months for the Maryland Jockey Club. Along with adding a casino to the popular Maryland State Fairgrounds location, they’ve recently greenlit a $200 million update to Laurel Park. This renovation plan was rumoured to be part of a bid to move the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico, but attention has since shifted to a potential bid for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2018. For their part, Pimlico has also agreed to some facility updates at the strong urging of the MJC.
The cooperation enjoyed by OTB and live racing is a positive sign in an otherwise dusty debate between the two gaming factions. Decoupling persists as a major issue in Florida, while the state of New York is having significant problems installing a new casino at Belmont Park. While greed and politics continues to disrupt the otherwise harmonious relationship of OTB and live track racing, Maryland is making a strong push to begin competing at a higher level by keeping the symbiotic relationship intact. Right now, the Preakness Stakes is truly their only marquee competition unlike California, New York, Florida, Kentucky and Louisiana which have a full gambit of action that draws national attention all year round.
The new casino in Timonium is just the tip of the iceberg with the collective moves that the Maryland Jockey Club is making to improve the prestige of horse racing and gaming overall in the state.