02/23/2016 10:34AM

Maryland commission approves Timonium OTB in face of local opposition


The Maryland Racing Commission on Monday approved a plan for a new off-track betting parlor at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County despite vows from Baltimore and county officials to block the facility.

The plan, which was submitted by the Maryland Jockey Club, the owner of Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and three other OTBs in the state, calls for year-round simulcasting on the second-floor of the existing grandstands at Timonium, which annually holds a 10-day summer race meet. The racing commission said it approved the plan by a 7-0 vote on Monday.

The MJC had been seeking to open the new betting location for several years, but neighborhood residents have raised concerns about traffic and the possibility that the location will be targeted by casino developers in the future. Fairgrounds officials have countered that the OTB will raise revenues for maintenance of their aging facilities.

City and county officials have said they will file measures in their respective councils seeking to block the OTB before it opens. The MJC and the fairgrounds have not announced a timetable for the opening of the facility.

Sal Sinatra, the general manager of the MJC, said in a statement that the company will work with community leaders to address their concerns.

“We believe there’s tremendous potential in Maryland Thoroughbred racing and we want to build on its rich tradition,” Sinatra said. “By growing our off-track network we hope to create convenience for our customers and exposure to racing throughout the state."