MJC network grows with approval of another off-track betting parlor

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 2, 2017

The Maryland Racing Commission Nov. 29 approved an application for a license to operate an off-track betting facility adjacent the Greenmount Station restaurant in Hampstead in Carroll County.

When the OTB parlor begins operating, most likely before the end of this year, it will be the fifth such facility opened by the Maryland Jockey Club over the past several years. The others are at Hollywood Casino Perryville, the Boonsboro Event Center, the Maryland State Fairgrounds at Timonium, and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

The MJC also operates a betting parlor at the Riverboat on the Potomac, which is located on Maryland waters just off the coast of Virginia. The MRC Nov. 30 approved the transfer of the Potomac OTB license to the MJC in light of plans for the owner to sell the entertainment facility.

The MJC also offers year-round full-card simulcasts at its three tracks in the state: Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course and Rosecroft Raceway.

The Hampstead OTB parlor, in keeping with other facilities in the state, will be a partnership among the MJC; the owner, in this case Greenmount Station; and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. MJC President Sal Sinatra said he estimates the Hampstead facility to generate $4 million to $4.5 million a year in pari-mutuel handle, a range similar to those in Perryville and Boonsboro.

Work has been ongoing in vacant space in a small strip mall on Route 30.

“It should be open by the end of the year,” Sinatra said. “We’re targeting the week (between Christmas and New Year’s Day), which should be a busy time at Greenmount Station. The restaurant is a full service sports bar, so we may get more play than usual on Sundays and Monday nights.”

The community of Hampstead enthusiastically welcomed the new venture at the MRC hearing that was attended by the Mayor Chris Nevin, Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver and other elected officials in addition to MJC representatives.

“The town of Hampstead very much looks forward to working with Maryland Jockey Club and Greenmount Station restaurant to help grow the sport of Thoroughbred racing in our county,” Nevin said at the hearing.

The facility, strategically located about seven miles from Westminster and about 16 miles from Hanover, Pa., looks to attract bettors from not only Carroll County but Pennsylvania. Some of the local horseplayers visit an OTB facility in York, Pa., operated by Penn National Gaming Inc.

In a related matter, the MJC continues working with MGM National Harbor, which plans to place a race book on its second floor. The wagering area is expected to be ready by Memorial Day weekend, Sinatra said, but in the interim he is working with the casino to equip a ballroom so it can take bets in time for the Triple Crown series.

“They were happy with that (temporary) proposal,” he said. “The race book will have a state of-the-art television wall. The design of the race book has to be approved by (corporate officials in Las Vegas).”

MGM National Harbor, which opened late last year, is major contributor to the Purse Dedication Account which earns 6% of video lottery terminal revenue at five of the state’s casinos and 2.5% from another one in western Maryland. Through the first 10 months of 2017 the machines had generated $48.7 million for purses; Thoroughbred racing gets 80% and Standardbred racing 20%.

(Photo by Tom LaMarra)