BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Lawmakers are being asked to reconsider racetrack funding after a Baltimore City Delegate released photos of poor living conditions for on-site employees at Laurel Park.
Baltimore City Delegate Nick Mosby said that the pictures came from a racetrack whistleblower at a time when lawmakers are being asked to allocate $120 million to the Stronach Group which owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.
“I think it’s a priority for the state, we need to take a step back,” Mosby said. “Not providing new funding mechanisms to spruce up their tracks, but assuring the money going to them is going to provide housing for these individuals who work so hard to keep horseracing running in Maryland.”
The Stronach Group issued a statement saying in part,
“Maryland Jockey Club agrees that living conditions for backstretch workers is important. That is why we have already received approval from the Maryland Racing Commission for new dormitories and construction materials have been purchased.”
The statement also said that the pictures are of the older dorms, but it does not specify whether workers still live in them.
The Maryland Jockey Club is waiting for the final permit approval and input from legislators on the future of three track properties.
The Maryland Jockey Club has also refurbished the track kitchen used by backstretch employees.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman expressed concern for the workers.
“This afternoon, I directed the head of our Inspections and Permits Department to inspect and assess the housing facilities at the racetrack as soon as possible. Our first concern is for the workers — we don’t want these workers to become homeless or end up in a location where they cannot get to their jobs.”
Mosby wants to impose stricter standards of accountability for those who are receiving state funds.
“There’s a major accountability issue,” Mosby said. “To provide so much money to an institution that’s subjecting their employees to such harsh conditions is unacceptable.”