Maryland Jockey Club Drops Legal Challenge To Slots Ruling

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 14th March 2011

The Maryland Jockey Club, owner and operator of Preakness Stakes venue Pimlico Race Course as well as other facilities, has dropped their legal challenge of a slots licensing ruling that went against them.  The move should help facilitate the sale of casino management company Penn National’s stake in the organziation.

The controversy began when the Maryland Jockey Club sought to obtain a slots concession for Anne Arundel County. The Cordish Company was awarded the lone Anne Arundel County slots license in 2009 after the Jockey Club was disqualified by the state because it didn’t submit the required fees with their application. The Maryland Jockey Club filed a legal appeal to the decision and took action on a variety of levels to block the development of the slots facility at the Arundel Mills outlet mall.

At some point, casino operations company Penn National decided to cut their losses and divest their financial stake in the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns and operates several Maryland racetracks including Preakness host Pimlico and Laurel Park. Penn National opened the state’s first casino in September and have been looking to expand their Maryland slots operations. For now, they’ll focus their efforts on Rosecroft Raceway, a Prince George’s County harness-racing track they company is buying for $11 million.

The plan for the facility is to revive live racing and push for the legalization of slots at Rosecroft. Penn National was able to get a great value price for the facility as it had been in bad financial shape for quite some time. It stopped live racing to save money and had been operating as an off-track betting site for two years before closing completely in July. Penn National is pitching a slots concession as a way to bring revenue to the insolvent tracks which in turn will benefit the horse racing industry in the state. The hope is that Rosecroft will be able to resume live racing within the year.

In announcing the decision to drop the legal challenge, Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas said that the gesture was in the best interest of Maryland horse racing:

“Dropping the suit is a good faith gesture since our primary goal is a long-term solution for Maryland racing.”

Work on the Arundel Mills casino is once again underway, and with the end of the Jockey Club legal challenges Penn National is free to plot their next move.