An alarming development has come to our attention this week regarding Off Track Betting being installed at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Senator Brochin and Delegates West, Lafferty and myself have spent hours talking to the Department of the Racing Commission, Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), the Maryland State Fairground, the Speakers Office, The Stratford community Association and the Greater Timonium Community Council and the Baltimore County Council for District Three about the additional gambling in our community. It was such a surprise that this was occurring without proper notification to the elected officials and the stakeholders in our community.
A letter was received by some of the elected officials on January 6, authored by DLLR stating on December 30th the Maryland Racing Commission received a request from the Maryland Jockey Club of Baltimore City asking for a permit to operate a satellite Simulcast Betting Facility in the Clubhouse at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. The letter states that a public meeting was to be held on January 22, 2016 at 4P.M. at the Fairgrounds and after the public hearing a vote would be taken to approve the plan by the Maryland Racing Commission.
We were all shocked and surprised that there was no consideration to the surrounding neighborhoods or the businesses along York Road. We were told that the Jockey Club put an ad in the newspaper to alert the surrounding stakeholders of the betting arena. We made many phone calls and sent letters to postpone this meeting to allow the public input. I was incredulous when I learned that 100 monitors had already been installed and there was an opening date to take place January the 29th.
This oversite on the impact of the community was not handled well and was extremely hurried and inconsiderate. We were glad that this public “input” meeting has been postponed to allow the plan to be fully vetted with the broader community before any decision can be made.
On another note; the Fairgrounds is attempting to change the type of liquor license the Fair currently has(license fee of $25.00 a day ) to a type of license that would allow year round liquor sales to the patrons of the new Off Track Betting arena. The legislators are not aware if the surrounding restaurants have been allowed to give input on the impact.
We will keep you posted if any new developments and give you a summary of the meeting with your Legislators and the Fairgrounds Management to be held on Monday evening at 7 pm in Annapolis as well as the new date for the public input meeting.
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