OTB parlor in Frederick hotel approved by Maryland Racing Commission

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Sept. 21, 2018

The Maryland Racing Commission Sept. 20 approved an application by the Maryland Jockey Club to open an off-track betting outlet inside a hotel and conference center in Frederick, which at one time was home to a successful OTB facility.

When wagering commences in the Clarion Hotel just off Interstate 270 before the end of this year, it will be the eighth OTB facility in Maryland and first in a hotel.

The application was received by the MRC about three months ago, and local legislative leaders were made aware of the proposal. No comments in opposition were received by the racing commission.

Hotel owner Randy Cohen said wagering will be offered in an upgraded sports bar in the Clarion, with more space available. There could be seating for 615 people and standing room for another 200.

“It’s a very large facility with a lot of options,” Cohen said.

The former OTB parlor in the area was located at the Cracked Claw restaurant, which is about eight miles south of Frederick off I-270. In its best years, the Cracked Claw generated more than $20 million in pari-mutuel handle.

Frederick is a short drive from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in neighboring West Virginia.

“There is not a better place in Frederick County to host a (facility) like this,” said Rick Weldon, president of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

The proposal opening date is Nov. 1, though MJC President Sal Sinatra said it could be later in the year. The Frederick parlor will be operated like the others in the state under a three-party agreement between the facility owner, MJC, and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

Other OTB facilities in the state are located in the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, MGM National Harbor Casino, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Boonsboro Event Center, the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, Greenmount Station in Hampstead, and Riverboat on the Potomac off the coast of Virginia. All but Riverboat on the Potomac have opened in the last few years.

(THA photo)