Maryland Open for Sports Betting License Applications

Maryland will be the next state in which sports betting – both online and at retail locations – becomes available. The state held a referendum on the regulation of sports betting last November, and the voters were in favor – Maryland’s betting bill was signed into law this spring, hoping for the first operators to begin working by the time the NFL season starts. Now, the state’s regulator has approved 17 retail locations where operators can begin to work – and two race tracks are among them.

The locations

Before online horse racing betting becomes available, Maryland locals will have to make do with retail locations where they’ll be able to place their bets on sporting events. The list of venues approved to run betting operations, approved by the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission in an August meeting, include a series of casinos and resorts, the Maryland State Fairgrounds, the Jockey Bar and Grill, the Riverboat on the Potomac, as well as Laurel Park Race Track and the Pimlico Race Track. And all the locations named in the state’s sports betting legislation will be able to apply for online sports betting licenses in the future. Also, NHL, NBA, and MLS franchises that lease a stadium in the state will be able to apply for a betting license.

The operators

Maryland’s sports betting market is starting to take shape with operators partnering up – or buying up – local gambling companies.

Barstool Sportsbook, run by Penn National Gaming, acquired Hollywood Casino (one of the locations named in the state’s betting legislation) last December. Horseshoe Casino is already owned by Caesars, and MGM National Harbor is, of course, owned by MGM Resorts International that runs a number of outlets in Nevada, New Jersey, and abroad. PointsBet New Jersey partnered up, this June, with Riverboat on the Potomac, a licensed satellite simulcast facility for horseracing.

Applications to open later

Maryland still has 23 unnamed retail sports betting licenses up for grabs that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission plans to open for applications later in the year. At the same time, the MLGC plans to accept applications for 60 online betting licenses and further retail locations. The state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission still has to establish the rules for evaluating applications before the state can award any further licenses. As expected, the SWARC will give priority to minority- or women-owned businesses in the area.

 

If all goes as planned, regulated sports betting may become a thing in Maryland in “late fall, early winter”, Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director John Martin told the press. “It is our intent to expedite the process as efficiently as we can to get us there. We’re still very much pushing for football season”.

Industry Profile: Trainer King Leatherbury, The King of Maryland

Editor’s Note:  I had the good fortune of working for trainer King Leatherbury one summer at both Pimlico and Laurel.  Although I worked on the backstretch for him, I was also doing a college internship in which I analyzed his accounting ledgers dating back a couple of decades to determine whether or  not his owners made owners.  Incredibly, they actually did.  An article was written, and with the help of editor Mark Simon, it was published in the now-defunct Thoroughbred Times (April 24, 1994).  ~ Rich Nilsen

King Leatherbury knows how he wants his training career to be defined. He knows how he would like to be remembered.

“If I wanted something on my tombstone,” he said, “it would just be, ‘He won races.’ ”

Leatherbury, 87, has won races all right. He ranked fourth all-time with 6,455 victories when he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2015, the ultimate exclamation point to a career that has spanned parts of seven decades. He currently ranks fifth on the all-time list of leading trainers by wins with more than 6,500.

The Maryland native stayed close to his roots in winning at least 100 races per season for 26 consecutive years from 1972 to 1997. He won at least 200 races every year from 1974 to 1984. He won more often than any other Thoroughbred trainer in the nation in 1976 and 1977.

Business boomed even as he competed against the likes of [trainers] Bud Delp, Dick Dutrow, and John Tammaro, a group so formidable they became known as the “Big Four.”   Continue reading about legendary horseman King Leatherbury.

No, Horse racing is not “yesterday’s sport” and Pimlico is worth saving

Bill Hamilton wrote an opinion piece in The Sun stating that any effort to revitalize Pimlico Racecourse (and the surrounding neighborhood) would be a “ridiculous” waste of time, money, effort and resources (“Pimlico: a dead horse,” Dec. 28). Mr. Hamilton suggests that us Baltimoreans are too fixated upon nostalgia and goes on to baselessly denigrate the Preakness as an event for people wearing silly hats, operated by “cheating trainers” who abuse horses for a living, glibly labeling the racing industry as “yesterday’s sport.”

As a horse owner, the suggestion by Mr. Hamilton that those of us in the sport are cheaters and abusers of the animals we care so much about is not only insulting, but absurd. Because it is clear that Mr. Hamilton is wholly ill-informed, and knows absolutely nothing about the industry or positive economic impact that the Preakness annually brings to our city, I thought it important to introduce some facts into the discussion.

A 2018 economic impact study generated by the American Horse Council determined that the Maryland horse industry added more than $1.3 billion to the state’s economy, with $572 million dollars being contributed by the racing industry. Moreover, the racing industry supports more than 5,200 jobs in our state. With regard to the Preakness, in a 2017 report, the Maryland Department of Commerce found that the Preakness weekend generated a nearly $40 million positive impact for our city. In addition to the undeniable economics, the publicity and prestige that goes along with hosting one of the top 10 sporting events in the nation every year is simply immeasurable.

Is Horse Racing Dead? 8th Consecutive Laurel Park Meet Soars

Press Release

For the third consecutive year and eighth consecutive meet, Laurel Park registered an increase in average daily handle during its recently-completed summer meet.

Laurel’s average handle during its 33-day summer meet was $2.725 million, up 25.6 percent over last summer’s average of $2.170 million.

Total handle on Laurel’s summer meet was $112 million, up from $63.2 million last year when there were 24 live race days.

“We’re pleased that our product continues to trend upward with bettors, and horsemen throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast continue to support our program,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We will continue to build our product with quality racing, full fields and improvements throughout our facility, and we truly believe our upcoming fall meet will be the best in recent memory.

The fall meet will offer 44 stakes worth $4.42 million in purses, and a number of Super Saturdays highlighted by the De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Sept. 16, the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G2) and Commonwealth Derby (G3) Sept. 30, and the James F. Lewis, City of Laurel and Safely Kept Nov. 11, the day when the career and life of Maryland champion Ben’s Cat will be honored.

On Saturday, Oct. 21, Laurel Park will play host to the 32nd Jim McKay Maryland Million, “one of the greatest days of the year in Maryland,” Sinatra added.