License expected in September and machines would be added in phases

Slot machines may be in place as soon as December at the Ocean Downs horse-racing facility near Berlin.

Ocean Downs owner William Rickman has plans to pump some $45 million into the Taylorville complex, which has been added onto and modernized several times over its 60-year history, according to The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md.

Rickman, who also owns Delaware Park near Wilmington, is likely to obtain a state operator's license as soon as September; that means the businessman could have the first 200 of his “video lottery terminals” installed in Pacers Restaurant at Ocean Downs by Christmas.

Ultimately, a new 34,000-square-foot building will be constructed for slot players. It promises to be a high-class facility, complete with a brick facade, a large ground-floor slots area with a central bar and a food bar. The old grandstand seating would be torn down, but ground-level outdoor seating and the track remain the same. Slots machines would be brought into the complex in phases, in accordance with the state legislation governing slots.

By May 2011, the new building and the first 600 machines are expected to be ready and open to the public; another 200 video lottery terminals could be added between December 2011 and April 2012. The cap on the number of machines is 800.