07/09/2001 12:00AM

In-state wagering on Pimlico declines


In-state handle on Maryland races during the Pimlico Race Course meet, which ended Saturday, plunged nearly 16 percent compared to last year, according to figures from the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico and Laurel Park.

Betting in state on Maryland races was $37.5 million for 71 live race days at Pimlico, a decrease of 16 percent compared with betting of $47.6 million during a comparable period last year.

Total handle for the meet was $343,514,106, nearly identical to the same time period last year. The MJC made up for the drop in in-state Maryland handle with an increase in wagers on out-of-state signals and from interstate simulcasting sites.

The in-state handle figure is not directly comparable, because last year Pimlico ran a 58-day meeting. The Pimlico meet this year was extended in order to form a year-round circuit with Colonial Downs in Virginia, which is racing in the summer for the first time this year. The period used for the comparison this year includes 13 dates in 2000 at Laurel Park.

Maryland Jockey Club officials attributed the decline in handle to the fact that wagering on Maryland races is normally higher when racing is being conducted at Laurel. Also, the track held 46 fewer races this year over the comparable time period last year.