First Urbana. Now North East.
The number of off-track betting parlors in the state doubled yesterday to two when Poor Jimmy's Family Restaurant in Cecil County received the state racing commission's approval to join the Cracked Claw in Frederick County as an OTB parlor.
But a couple of contingencies still need to be worked out:
* A minority participation report must be filed and approved before the board grants final licensing permission.
* The state's harness tracks have yet to sign an agreement to send their races into Poor Jimmy's at night, although the facility could operate strictly as a thoroughbred outlet.
Despite these obstacles, the North East facility is expected to open this week in time for horseplayers in the northeast corner of the state to bet on Saturday's Belmont Stakes without leaving the county.
Poor Jimmy's consists of four large rooms (approximately 14,000 square feet), which hold about 600 people. There is parking space for 400 cars. Current owner Jimmy Bomba is leasing the facility at a fixed rate to Pimlico/Laurel track operators who will handle the racing end of the outlet and expect it to average about $75,000 a day in bets.
Bomba will provide food and beverage service and said he expects to double his staff, which now numbers between 30 and 40 employees.
Poor Jimmy's is located on Route 40, seven miles south of Elkton and is situated about a mile off Interstate 95 at Exit 100 (North East, Rising Sun).
Only two people spoke in opposition to the parlor when the racing board held a hearing yesterday at the site. Those who spoke in support of the project included Larry Truslow, the town's mayor; Dr. Robert Gill, president of the Cecil County Community College; and Jack Harvey, vice president of the board of Bethel Lutheran Church, which adjoins the proposed betting outlet.
The opponents were a property owner concerned about increased traffic and the pastor of a Methodist church who is opposed to gambling.
Of more concern was the failure of the management of Rosecroft and Delmarva raceways to strike a deal with the Pimlico/Laurel thoroughbred officials to send the harness racing signal into the facility.
Racing commission chairman Jack Mosner Jr. said he advocates that all OTB sites be joint thoroughbred/ harness ventures. At issue seems to be how the harness track operators and their horsemen will share costs of the project.
Pimlico-Laurel's president Joe De Francis is currently at odds with the harness management over an experimental cross-breed simulcasting program. The groups meet Tuesday at Laurel Race Course to try to work out their differences.
NOTES: New Jersey invader Gary Gumbo, ridden by Herb Castillo Jr., rallied from off the pace to defeat Futurist by a length yesterday in the $75,000 Riggs Handicap at Pimlico. Favored Social Retiree finished sixth.