The Maryland Racing Commission granted approval yesterday to William Rickman Jr., owner of the Ocean Downs harness track, to import simulcast signals from out-of-state thoroughbred tracks without the Maryland Jockey Club's consent.
The action means that Rickman no longer must buy out-of-state signals from the operators of Pimlico and Laurel Park, the state's major thoroughbred tracks. He can negotiate his own deals for purposes of simulcast betting at Ocean Downs - but only Ocean Downs.
Commissioners limited Rickman's use of the signals to his track on the Eastern Shore. He would have to seek additional commission approval if he wanted to transmit the signals to off-track-betting parlors or use them for telephone betting. Rickman has said he wants to build OTBs and institute a telephone-wagering network.
Representatives of the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association told commissioners that they did not object to Rickman's importing out-of-state thoroughbred signals, as long as he could televise them only at his track.
Rickman will continue to deal with officials of the Maryland Jockey Club for the right to televise and take betting on races from Pimlico and Laurel Park.