Laurel Park is one of two Maryland racing facilities where a casino could be located.

Laurel Park is one of two Maryland racing facilities where a casino could be located.

Jimmy McCue

MJC Supports Passage of Slots Measure

The Maryland Jockey Club supports passage of a referendum to authorize slot machines.

The Maryland Jockey Club said it is “aggressively supporting” a campaign to win approval via a Nov. 4 statewide referendum for slot machines at five locations in the state.

Maryland voters will decide whether or not the General Assembly can authorize expanded gambling in the state. The plan would allow 15,000 slot machines at the five locations, two of which could be racetracks under language in the law.

The slots would generate about $700 million in revenue per year, with 48% of the funds earmarked for education. The state’s horseracing industry would receive a percentage of slots revenue as well.

The two tracks in the running for slots under the language in the law are Laurel Park, which is operated by the MJC, and Ocean Downs, an Eastern Shore harness track. All tracks and breeding programs would benefit from slots revenue, however.

The MJC, in an Oct. 9 release, said failure to pass the referendum “may lead to cuts in services or higher taxes, and could determine the future of racing in the state.”

The MJC said it supports “For Maryland, For Our Future,” a grassroots coalition of Marylanders dedicated to helping promote the passage of the slots referendum.

“Question 2 will help preserve Maryland racing, which is supported by thousands of employees, and hundreds of horse farms including thousands of acres of green space,” Tom Chuckas, president and chief operating officer of Laurel and Pimlico Race Course, said in a statement. “All of which is at risk of disappearing from Maryland's cultural, financial, and historical landscape.”

The slots referendum has been endorsed by the Maryland State Teachers Association, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Maryland Association of Counties, the AFL-CIO and AFSCME unions, and the entire racing community:  the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and the MJC.