MJC approved to operate casino OTB facility

Posted: Oct. 6, 2016

The Maryland Racing Commission Oct. 5 approved a request by the Maryland Jockey Club to operate a satellite wagering facility at Hollywood Casino at Perryville in Cecil County.

It will be the second casino-based off-track wagering operation for the MJC, which earlier this year launched a betting parlor at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore. The company plans to pursue a similar venture at the under-construction MGM National Harbor casino south of Washington, D.C.

The MJC, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and Hollywood Casino are partners in the Perryville simulcast facility, which will employ about 800 square feet adjacent a poker area and bar. MJC president and general manager Sal Sinatra, during the racing commission hearing held at the casino, said there will be 30 betting carrels, high-definition television screens, and tablets that will allow players to open accounts and wager from their seats.

“We’re trying to expand throughout the state,” Sinatra said. “We see ourselves as an amenity for the casino.”

Hollywood Casino general manager Matthew Heiskell noted the Perryville casino, located just of Interstate 95 near the Susquehanna River, competes with Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore to the south and Casino at Delaware Park to the north, and both of those facilities offer wagering on horse racing.

“We believe there is a sweet spot here by offering something the casino doesn’t currently have,” he said. “Some customers may be looking for a change of pace, and this can really brighten up space that’s dead or not used on the casino floor. It can something more vibrant and interesting.”

Local and county officials were on hand for the racing commission meeting, and all spoke in favor of the satellite wagering facility.

Lisa Webb, director of the Cecil County Office of Economic Development, said the casino, the first to open in Maryland, has had a positive impact on the county, and the satellite wagering facility will be a great addition. Cecil County up until a few years ago had off-track wagering at Poor Jimmy’s, a restaurant in North East that closed.
Sinatra said Poor Jimmy’s generated about $18 million a year in pari-mutuel handle a year; the projection for Perryville is $10 million, which he called a “conservative number.” Based on the projection, each of the three partners in the simulcast facility would net about $431,000 a year, according to documents provided to the MRC.

The MJC also operates off-track betting parlors at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, the Boonsboro Event Center between Frederick and Hagerstown, and the Riverboat on the Potomac accessible from Colonial Beach, Va.