Pimlico Race Course, the historic site of the Preakness Stakes, announced it is shutting down the track’s off-track betting (OTB) facility by June 30.
The decision is another sign of the Maryland horse racing industry falling on hard times.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly created the Maryland Thoroughbred Operating Authority, a committee with sweeping powers to help the industry. One such task is trying to jumpstart improvements at Pimlico and Laurel Park Racetrack that have stalled due to the rise in development costs.
Company is still assessing the situation
In an article by The Baltimore Banner, 1/ST Racing and Gaming CEO Aidan Butler wrote in an email to employees that the OTB would only close “during the summer months when it is not as utilized by our patrons.” But reassured employees that a final decision has not been made.
“As we continue our assessment of the Pimlico OTB operations, we are committed to working closely with your union, elected officials, and governmental agencies.”
The Maryland Jockey Club is the subsidiary owner of Pimlico and Laural Park. The Jockey Club is owned by the Canada-based Stronach Group, which also does business as 1/ST.
According to the racing commission’s annual report, over $11.3 million was gambled through simulcast betting at Pimlico in the 2021 calendar year. The report also shows that Pimlico was open for gambling on 199 simulcast days in 2021 and 59 live racing days.
Pimlico to close OTB facility and will provide employees with resources
In a separate email to employees on Thursday, Mike Rogers, the company’s acting president, wrote:
“The Pimlico OTB has been a valuable part of our organization for many years, providing a convenient location for our customers to enjoy thoroughbred racing. Understandably, this news may come as a disappointment to many of you.”
Rogers said the focus would shift to track staff. “In the coming weeks, we will be working closely with affected employees to provide resources and assistance as we wind down operations at Pimlico.”
According to the political news site Maryland Matters, the group did not notify the Maryland Racing Commission of its decision to close its OTB facility.