Laurel Race Course and the Pimlico simulcast center will be closed for four days late next month so that new pari-mutuel terminals, called the Spectrum system, can be installed by AmTote International Inc.
The new equipment, already in use at Rosecroft and Delmarva raceways, will furnish all tracks in the state with a uniform totalisator network and hasten plans for intertrack wagering, multiple-signal simulcasting and the establishment of off-track betting facilities.
The new terminals are designed to take more bets from more tracks and are expected eventually to be faster once the kinks of the operation have been ironed out.
Track general manager Jim Mango said Laurel and Pimlico will be closed from Monday, Jan. 25 through Thursday, Jan. 28.
"That means we will lose two days of racing [Monday and Wednesday are already regularly scheduled dark days] and when we reopen on Friday, Jan. 29, the new system will be in place," Mango said.
In addition to the installation of the new equipment, restructuring the pari-mutuel system also will require retraining the approximately 350 mutuel tellers at the two tracks.
"It's a little like playing the piano," Mango said. "The tellers are used to working on one keyboard now, but, with Spectrum, the keys will be changed."
Even though Laurel-Pimlico management has been negotiating with two other totalisator companies, AutoTote and International Tote, about using their equipment, Mango said AmTote came forward with a good-faith agreement to install the Spectrum system. The tracks' contract with AmTote is up in October 1993.
"Obviously, if the Spectrum system works well, AmTote will have the edge on their competitors when it comes time to sign a [new] contract," Mango said.
The Spectrum system has met with mixed reviews since the equipment was first installed last winter at Rosecroft Raceway. The main criticism is that the equipment is too slow printing mutuel tickets.
Mango said that the system has been improved and now has a faster printer.
The Meadowlands in New Jersey recently installed the Spectrum system.