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Card room and track near The Villages plans expansion, RV park

The sign for Oxford Downs on U.S. 301 near the Marion/Sumter County line. The card room is planning a big expansion. Photo: Joe Byrnes

Expansion is a sure bet at Oxford Downs, just west of The Villages of Marion, now that the county has approved zoning changes for the popular horse track and card room.

It will reduce the track from an oval to a J-shape. 

But otherwise it’s planning huge growth: up to 80,000 square feet of commercial space, with a fourth of that devoted to gaming. Plus, a 220-unit RV park.

Neighbors, like Frank Smith, asked the Marion County Commission on Tuesday to reject the zoning changes, citing the area’s rural character, noise and traffic.

“If there is a place for a gambling casino built to serve The Villages, let them build it on the other side, east of 301, closer to the people they’re trying to serve,” Smith said. “Keep those buzzed drivers off 301.”

The business agreed to a buffer at property lines — berms topped with fences and shrubbery. Next, Oxford Downs will come back with its master plan.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.