Md. Panel Rejects Phone Betting Monopoly

The Maryland Racing Commission on Wednesday voted to allow more than one racing entity to offer home telephone wagering services, rejecting arguments made by the Maryland Jockey Club that a single license would be more efficient, according to the Washington Post.

The commission's action represented a "minor blow" to efforts by Laurel Park and Pimlico Racecourse owner Joe De Francis in his efforts to keep Delaware Park owner William Rickman from gaining a toehold in Maryland racing, the paper reported.

While De Francis told commissioners a single phone-betting service would be less confusing to customers, Delaware Park vice president Bill Fazy read a statement that said "the single system approach would…create conflicts between the track licensees and would fail to deliver the best possible product to existing and potential racing fans. Traditionally, state-created monopolies are notoriously poor service providers," according to the Post.

Rickman has submitted a license application for a new track in Maryland. As a result of the commission action, Rickman's track would be able to operate in-home betting if the track is licenses. Benefiting from slot machine gaming revenues, Delaware Park has become a formidable competitor for Maryland's two Thoroughbred tracks operated by MJC.

Last week, MJC agreed to provide a $5.1 million loan to Rosecroft Raceway for its purchase of Ocean Downs, a Maryland Standardbred track that Rickman was attempting to buy.