Hampstead off-track betting site wins final approval

Hampstead off-track betting site wins final approval
Signage advises patrons of Greenmount Station to avoid parking in the lot for Almost Family Child Care during certain hours in Hampstead Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Greenmount Station is considering opening an off-track betting parlor. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

An initially controversial off-track betting site in Hampstead received final approval by the Maryland Racing Commission during a Nov. 29 hearing.

This new site will operate in a portion of the Greenmount Station restaurant building, and will be connected to the restaurant, according to owner Chris Richards, but will be operated by the Maryland Jockey Club.


Off-track betting facilities allow people to bet on horse races around the country that are being simulcast on television monitors. The Hampstead facility will be the seventh such facility in the state.

After a June hearing before the Town of Hampstead’s Zoning Appeal’s Board, some of Richards’ neighbors expressed concern about parking and the nature of an off track betting facility, most notably Beth Hood, one of the owners of Almost Family Childcare Center, which shares a parking lot with the Greenmount Station restaurant building.

But an arrangement made for overflow parking at the nearby Greenmount Bowl, which in July was purchased by the Executive Director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, David Richardson, appears to have alleviated Hood’s concerns.

“We haven’t had very many parking issues, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes,” Hood said in an interview Monday.

Mike Hopkins, executive director of the racing commission, said the full community support on display at the Nov. 29 meeting led the commission to approve the license.

“The elected officials supported it; a County Council member was there, the mayor was there,” he said. “The horsemen, breeders, look at it as just another avenue to make horse racing more convenient to the general public.”

Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, attended the hearing, he said, to see how people felt about it and if there was anyone to speak in opposition.

“I didn’t know how church groups and others were going to react to that type of thing,” he said. “There wasn’t any opposition. It looks like it’s a really well-run type thing, just TV sets and people betting.”

Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin, who also attended the hearing, said in an interview that while an off-track betting site certainly wasn’t something the town had gone looking for, he believes it will be an innocuous use of the business space.

“I think it will be good for the business owners of both the bowling alley and Greenmount Station,” he said. “We weren’t looking to attract this, but the more you did the research, the more you found there was no negative impact.”

Noted Weaver: “I didn’t see anything offensive to the community. I don’t think we will even know it’s there.”

The Maryland Jockey Club would like to see it up and running by the end of the year, according to a statement attributed to club President Sal Sinatra in a Dec. 2 blog post on the website of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association. Sinatra was not available to speak to the Times for this story.

“We’re targeting the week [between Christmas and New Year’s Day], which should be a busy time at Greenmount Station,” he is quoted as saying in the blog post. “The restaurant is a full-service sports bar, so we may get more play than usual on Sundays and Monday nights.”

The blog post also attributes to Sinatra the assertion that the Maryland Jockey Club estimates the gross amount of money bet at the Hampstead site could reach $4 million to $4.5 million annually.


Whether it will really be off to the races before 2018, however, is still uncertain. According to the owner, Richards, there is still a bit of construction work to finish if the site is to open by the first of the year.

“We’ve got a lot of people here working,” he said. “I will say we are getting things done every day now, when two weeks ago that wasn’t the case. My thought would be by the end of this month.”