Bally's bid for OTB near Hagerstown is on hold Commission needs time to consider Curran opinion

September 11, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Racing Commission deferred action yesterday on the request by Bally's Maryland Inc. to open an off-track betting center near Hagerstown.

E. William Furey, commission chairman, said commissioners had not had time to digest Monday's 15-page opinion by Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. The opinion addressed the thorny issue of whether the owner of a harness track in Maryland can offer its bettors out-of-state races of thoroughbreds without the consent of the state's thoroughbred interests: the tracks, horse owners and horse breeders.

That issue of "cross-breed simulcasting" is central to the request by Bally's Maryland Inc., owner of the Ocean Downs harness track near Ocean City, to open on OTB site in Washington County. Although Bally's officials say they would open the OTB with only harness simulcasts, they would like to simulcast thoroughbreds in the future.

In his opinion, Curran asked the racing commission to let the General Assembly sort out the issue. In the meantime, he urged commissioners not to allow Bally's to simulcast thoroughbred races at its proposed OTB site.

Meeting at Laurel Park, the commission agreed unanimously to put off the issue until its Oct. 15 meeting at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County.

In other action, commissioners adopted a regulation that prohibits jockeys from whipping a horse on its head or flanks or using whips in a "brutal manner." Introduced by commissioner John B. Franzone, the rule did not emerge from alleged brutality but from a desire to have such a humane regulation on the books.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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