By Greg Ellison
Downs makes pitch regarding rezoning and its expansion
(Oct. 22, 2020) As Worcester County officials continue weighing the merits of a proposed text amendment for a Casino Entertainment District at Ocean Downs on Route 589, the potential facility expansion was also vetted by the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors during its meeting on Saturday.
Ocean Downs General Manager Bobbi Sample reviewed details for a text amendment request that would create an overlay for the A-2 district facility, which was presented in April by attorney Joe Moore.
Sample conceded that the request to Worcester County for zoning modifications has raised concerns and generated confusion.
“This overlay sits on top of our A-2 zoning,” she said.
Although the zoning overlay would allow for a host of possible additions, such as restaurants or outdoor concert venues, the initial goal would be building an adjacent hotel.
Under Maryland law, licensed gaming establishment are not permitted to operate an associated hotel but could lease or sell property tor an outside developer.
“Everything that we will do at the property is going to be geared towards increasing our core businesses, the casino and racetrack,” she said. “We are still a casino but are owned by Churchill Downs, so racing is obviously something that’s important to us.”
In January 2017, Churchill Downs and Saratoga Casino Holdings assumed ownership of Ocean Downs, with Churchill subsequently assuming full control in September 2018.
Sample said the text amendment would largely serves as a “cleanup bill” to clarify allowable uses, which are currently tied to