Maryland Racetrack Authority Bill Passes House, Heads to Governor's Desk

Maryland Jockey Club

Legislation which will create the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority (MTROA) was passed by the state's House of Representatives by a vote of 132-2 on Apr. 10, the last day of the state's 2023 General Assembly session. Previously Senate Bill 720 , which is designed to participate in the development of racing and training facilities in the state and operate in the best interests of Thoroughbred racing, passed the state Senate by a 47-0 vote Apr. 6.

The bill also states that, “If necessary, the authority will manage and oversee day-to-day racing operations and live racing days and, in coordination with the Maryland Economic Development Corp., acquire property for operations; enter into any agreements, leases, partnerships or contracts needed for pari-mutuel wagering and compliance with rules and regulations.”

The bill also would, “prop up a new ownership group for racing and training,” should the The Stronach Group (1/ST Racing), the owner/operator of the Maryland Jockey Club's Laurel Race Course and Pimlico, exits racing in the state.

Five members of the MTROA will be appointed by the governor–one of two nominated by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (MTHA), one of two nominated by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association (MHBA), and three other members who possess relevant industry, business or government experience, including one in real estate or finance. Other members are the Chair or Executive Director of the both the Maryland State Archives (MSA) and the Maryland Economic Division (MEDCO), one who is not an elected official appointed by the Senate President and one who is not an elected official appointed by the Speaker of the House. Additionally, three non-voting ex-officio members will be appointed by the governor–one who resides near Laurel, one who resides near Pimlico, and one who resides near the old Bowie Training Center, which is being given to the city of Bowie and University of Bowie. The other non-voting ex-officio member will come from the Maryland Racing Commission.

The MTROA will be in place for four years and one month but could be extended through statutory changes if necessary. The bill, which is set to take effect on Jun. 1, now heads to the desk of Governor Wes Moore, who is expected to sign it.

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