Maryland Jockey Club stands to benefit from phone betting

Officials apply for license for telephone wagering to be conducted by TVG

Horse Racing

September 26, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Even though the Maryland Jockey Club has applied for a license to conduct telephone wagering, the options for Maryland bettors will not increase as a result.

The plan MJC officials offered Monday to the Maryland Racing Commission would allow Television Games Network to conduct telephone wagering on behalf of the MJC. And TVG is already conducting telephone wagering in some parts of Maryland.

What the MJC's application does is ensure that TVG's betting program in Maryland meets state regulations. The regulations say that an outside party can conduct wagering on behalf of a state license-holder.

TVG, the 24-hour horse racing channel, accepts wagers by phone at its Oregon hub. Marylanders can view TVG via satellite or on Comcast cable in Harford, Howard and Baltimore counties.

Joe De Francis, president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, said yesterday that the MJC would launch a marketing campaign for telephone betting as soon as the racing commission approved MJC's application. Maryland racing would benefit because the money Marylanders bet through TVG -- minus an undisclosed fee to TVG -- would be divided among the various segments of the state's racing industry.

De Francis said that he believes TVG could generate $20 million to $40 million "fairly quickly" in Maryland betting. That would help the industry, he said, but it would not be "the answer" to all the industry's woes.

NOTE: De Francis said that racing would return Oct. 17 to Laurel Park after the running of the Maryland Million Oct. 13 at Pimlico. He said that no long-term remedy had been adopted to stop the cracking of large panels of glass overlooking the track, but that precautions would be taken to ensure patrons' safety.

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