Racetrack Gaming May Hinge on Votes in Some States
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 11/3/2002 12:26:53 PM
Last Updated: 11/3/2002 12:36:59 PM

Elections in six states Nov. 5 may determine, or at least play a role, in the future of alternative gaming at racetracks.

In Arizona, for instance, residents will determine by referendum whether they support slot machines at racetracks. In Pennsylvania, both gubernatorial candidates have endorsed racetrack gaming, so the issue will hinge on legislative approval.

Here's a quick look at the states and the issues:

Arizona

There are three propositions, including Proposition 201, which calls for a limited number of slot machines at horse and dog tracks, as well as a continuation of Indian gaming. The proposition has pushed by the "Joe Arizona" campaign.

Iowa

Polk County voters will determine through a referendum whether to continue slot-machine gaming at Prairie Meadows.

Maryland

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert Ehrlich Jr. square off in the gubernatorial election. Townsend is against racetrack slot machine, while Ehrlich has come up with a plan that would give the state 50% of the revenue from racetrack slots.

Revenue from slot machine gambling is a key component of Ehrlich's budget proposal. The machines would be located at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, Rosecroft Raceway, and a track and simulcast facility proposed for western Maryland.

New Hampshire

The gubernatorial race between Craig Benson and Mark Fernald is focused on other issues. In fact, the owners of Rockingham Park announced in late October plans to race for two more years while they pursue development of the racetrack located near the Massachusetts border.

The plan to race for a few more years, however, could mean the door has been left open should New Hampshire move toward racetrack gaming.

Ohio

Gov. Bob Taft isn't a supporter of racetrack gaming, but his challenger, Timothy Hagan, does support it. Racetrack gaming has been heralded by some legislators in the state as the way to pump money into the state's education system, but bills have failed to come up for a vote.

Ohio is one of the states that, because of a budget deficit, track-based slots are seen as having a chance to become a reality.

Pennsylvania

Ed Rendell and Mike Fisher, both of whom want to become governor, support racetrack gaming. Though never a slam-dunk, it appears Pennsylvania has the best chance of getting legislation passed in the very near future.

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