Md. outlets to offer Saratoga simulcasts

THE BALTIMORE SUN

All Maryland betting outlets will offer full-card simulcasts from Saratoga race course on a daily basis when the upstate New York track begins its 34-day meet tomorrow.

Betting on the Saratoga races will be available through self-service wagering terminals only.

Joe De Francis, operator of Laurel/Pimlico, said the move to use the automated machines is an effort to control costs because the New York Racing Association charges a premier rate for selling its Saratoga signal.

"This move is also an effort to try to preserve our Maryland handle," De Francis said. "At Philadelphia and Monmouth parks, for example, we have reciprocal simulcast arrangements where those tracks also offer betting on our races. That means money from those tracks also comes into Maryland pools. But New York law prohibits NYRA from taking full-card wagering on our Maryland races. Everything bet here on Saratoga goes out of state. This policy makes Saratoga available for those fans who really want it while simultaneously trying to preserve our live Maryland handle."

De Francis added that a similar policy, worked out with the state's harness industry, is in effect daily on thoroughbred races simulcast after 7:15 p.m.

De Francis is meeting with harness officials today to discuss simulcasting the Del Mar races from California when that meet starts next week.

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