Anne M. Eberhardt/Blood-Horse Publications

Maryland Senate OKs Slots Vote

A referendum on allowing slot machines in Maryland was approved by the state Senate.

A November 2008 referendum on allowing slot machines in the state was approved by the Maryland Senate the evening of Nov. 8.

The vote was 31-15, according to the Baltimore Sun. The House speaker supports the measure, which requires a three-fifths majority vote, but there is opposition in that chamber, the newspaper reported.

As Gov. Martin O’Malley said earlier, the proposal calls for a total of 15,000 slot machines at five locations, two of them racetracks—Laurel Park between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore.

The Sun reported that a bid by Senate Republicans to remove Ocean Downs from the proposal and replace it with Rosecroft Raceway, a Washington, D.C.-area harness track, failed. Rosecroft is located just minutes from well-populated Northern Virginia.

Rosecroft recently was purchased by Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Charles Town Races & Slots, a West Virginia racino that lures Maryland gamblers. Ocean Downs is owned by William Rickman Jr., whose Delaware Park racino also attracts Maryland residents.

It remains to be seen how revenue from slots would be divvied up. Though Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), isn't included, it's owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., which also owns Laurel. Officials have said it's unclear whether slots revenue would be available to all racetracks in the state under a formula.