Unlike the other five casinos that opened in Maryland following a voter referendum, Ocean Downs has existed for over 70 years. First opened as Ocean Downs Racetrack in 1949, the racetrack was a popular venue for many decades before falling out of favor. Now the property of Churchill Downs, the racetrack also offers a substantial casino with slots, tables games, and, of course, a racebook.
Now, the next step for Ocean Downs is to expand into a retail sportsbook as well. Let’s take a look at how Churchill Downs has expanded into other states, what to expect from TwinSpires Maryland, and what else you can find and enjoy when visiting Ocean Downs Casino.
Address: 10218 Racetrack Rd, Berlin, MD 21811
Phone number: (410) 641-0600
Opened in: 1949 (harness track), 2011 (casino)
Retail sportsbook: Not yet
Online sportsbook: Not yet
Gaming floor: 80,000 square feet
Table games: 18
Poker room: No
Given how Churchill Downs has expanded the TwinSpires brand into new states with both a sports betting app and a racebook app, expect more of the same in Maryland. Ocean Downs is eligible for a Class A-2 sportsbook license. For $1 million upfront and a $300,000 renewal fee every five years, Ocean Downs can open a retail sportsbook in tandem with the existing racebook. Additionally, the property has a license for online betting.
Originally, Churchill Downs tried to launch the brand BetAmerica as both an online casino and sportsbook app. However, after the brand struggled to gain market share and got some bad PR as a result of a lengthy service outage, Churchill Downs elected to pivot.
The company is rebranding its online sportsbooks in states like Indiana and Colorado to the TwinSpires brand. Horse betting fans in Maryland are likely familiar with the TwinSpires name. It has long been the brand of the Churchill Downs horse betting app. While the TwinSpires sportsbook is a separate app from the racing app, Churchill Downs has been working to promote both in states where the apps are available.
As one of the smaller casinos, there are a limited number of machines and tables, but the casino nonetheless features a fair amount of variety. Here’s a look at the offerings:
There are more than 800 slot machines on the Ocean Downs gaming floor. The stakes range from $.01 a pull to $25. Some of the notable titles at Ocean Downs include:
There are up to 18 table games available at Ocean Downs. Some of the games players can find are:
The historic racetrack still runs races intermittently throughout the summer. There is also a simulcast area that runs year-round showing races from around the world.
There is no hotel attached to Ocean Downs. However, there are both upscale and budget hotels in Ocean City.
Ocean Downs Casino does offer several dining options. Here is a look at the four restaurants:
If there is anything Ocean Downs has that other Maryland casinos don’t, it is a rich history. Long before Maryland legalized casinos, Ocean Downs was drawing in people with its horse racing.
The track first opened in 1949 as a harness racing track. There were calls to switch to thoroughbred racing, but the track never followed through on the switch. This is just one of several decisions that, over the decades, resulted in the Maryland Racing Commission growing concerned about approving race dates.
Accordingly, a different operator, Rosecroft Raceway, bought the track in 1986 and renamed it Delmarva Downs. Just a year later though, Rosecroft sold the track to Mark Vogel. Vogel didn’t fare much better, as the track filed for bankruptcy in 1991.
At that point, Californian businessman Frederick Weisman bought the facility. He passed away in 1994, and the track once again went up for sale.
Bally’s decided to take a shot with the track and purchased it along with the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association (CSOA). Bally’s held out hope the property would eventually be able to add slot machines and bought out COSA in 1996. At that point, the name of the track reverted back to Ocean Downs.
By 2000, Bally’s lost patience and sold the track to Delaware Park owner William Rickman. The Maryland Jockey Club attempted to foil the sale, fearful Rickman would develop a monopoly in the region. Rickman prevailed though and was the owner when Maryland legalized casino gambling in 2008.
In 2011, Ocean Downs debuted its new slot machine casino, then added table games a couple of years later.
Rickman elected to sell the property to Churchill Downs and Saratoga Raceway in 2017. Just a year later, Churchill bought out Saratoga’s ownership share. The deal involved Churchill giving up its 25% stake in Saratoga in exchange for the half of Ocean Down’s Saratoga owned.