Rosecroft Raceway to reopen Thursday

Rosecroft Raceway, the once-storied horse track in Prince George’s County, will reopen on Thursday, according to its new owner, and Maryland politicians are likely to play a big role in shaping its future.

Initially, the Fort Washington facility will feature only simulcasts from other harness tracks around the country. Penn National Gaming, which bought Rosecroft at a bankruptcy auction, says live racing will return this fall.

After that, what happens is anyone’s guess. Penn National is preparing a big push next year to get the General Assembly to authorize slot machines and table games at the site, moves that would also require statewide voter approval.

As part of an effort to build goodwill, Rosecroft is among the sponsors of a conference of the Maryland Association of Counties that wrapped up Saturday in Ocean City. Annapolis-based lobbyists for Penn National greeted patrons at Friday night’s crab feast with tote bags bearing the logos of both the track and the Pennsylvania-based gaming company.

Beer cups at the event were provided by another gaming interest: the Casino at Ocean Downs, one of two Maryland slots sites already up and running.

The crab feast is traditionally the best-attended event of the four-day conference, drawing hundreds of county and state officials. Those present Friday night included Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

Baker and members of the Prince George’s legislative delegation are expected to have a large say in what happens in Annapolis regarding Rosecroft. County leaders have long opposed slots but are rethinking their position given on­going revenue challenges.

Rosecroft officials had hoped to reopen the facility earlier this month but were delayed by permitting and other issues.

 
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