Off-track parlors face inspections as condition of license renewals

December 11, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A story in yesterday's editions incorrectly reported price increases for several categories of tickets for next year's Preakness. The Sun regrets the error. Here are the correct prices:

Seat location .......1996 .......1997

Infield advance .....$17 .........$20

Inf. Preakness day ..$20 .........$25

Sports Pal. reserve .$145 ..... .$150

Grand. upper reserve $55 ....... .$60

Grand. upper box ....$120 .......$130

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Grand. lower box ....$130 .......$150

Grand. concourse ....$40 .........$45

The Maryland Racing Commission renewed the licenses of the state's five off-track betting parlors for 1998 yesterday, but attached an amendment that means the sites could be inspected by commission members every three months.

OTB operators found themselves defending the conditions of their facilities during a lengthy exchange with board members, who cited the posh parlor in nearby York, Pa., as an example of what bettors think they could be.

With competition all around them (Delaware slots for Poor Jimmy's, Charles Town video games for the Cracked Claw and Virginia racing for Port Tobacco and The Shoals), OTB managers complained of declining revenues and hidden fees to obtain signals.

"One of the things that has hurt us most is not being able to bet at windows at night," said John [Pappy] Poole, proprietor of the Cracked Claw.

That particular problem will be remedied if the tentative simulcast agreement is ratified by all parties, meaning tellers will sell bets for night racing.

Tom Flanigan, proprietor of the Riverboat on the Potomac, said racing in Virginia "cut our business in half. We're losing money every month."

Marty Jacobs, general counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club, said he and president Joe De Francis "will talk with them" after OTB operators said they were "at the mercy of the tracks."

Although several said they would have to quit the business if revenues do not increase, all applied for new licenses.

Jacobs said thoroughbred management is "looking for another site in the northeast area," which could mean the end of its association with Poor Jimmy's.

More than $100,000 was invested there by the Maryland Jockey Club and restaurant owner Jimmy Bomba to upgrade the facility.

NOTE: The commission approved price increases in these ticket categories for next year's Preakness:

Infield advance, $20 to $23; infield Preakness day, $25 to $30; Sports Palace reserve seats, $150 to $155; grandstand upper reserve, $60 to $65; grandstand upper box, $130 to $140; grandstand lower box outside seats, $150 to $170; grandstand concourse reserve, $45 to $50.

Sports Palace and grandstand upper-level prices will also apply on Black-Eyed Susan Day.

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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