Maryland Lawmakers Float Another Slots Plan

Another plan for slot machines has been floated in Maryland, but there are no details on how the horse industry would benefit, if at all.

Republican members of the Maryland House of Delegates have proposed a state budget that would limit growth in spending and derive hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from slot machines to combat a $1.5-billion shortfall. There were no details on how the horse industry would benefit.

The proposal, revealed Aug. 15, would permit up to 15,000 slot machines at various locations in the state, the Baltimore Sun reported. Similar proposals have surfaced over the last several years in Maryland.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley said through a spokesman he is willing to work with members of both parties to straighten out the state’s finances. He previously has said slots, including those at racetracks, could help the horse industry.

The Republican slots plan would require a $150-milion license fee for 3,500 machines, and a $50-million fee for 1.500 devices. The licensed would be auctioned, and the plan makes no mention of whether racetracks would be guaranteed slots, the Sun reported.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), for years has lobbied for expanded gambling. The racing industry has made several adjustments--fewer dates and fewer stakes--in an attempt to keep Maryland racing competitive with racing in neighboring states.

Earlier in August, Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Charles Town Races & Slots in neighboring West Virginia, announced plans to purchase Rosecroft Raceway, a Maryland harness track just south of Washington, D.C. Rosecroft, like the MJC, has pushed for slots over the years.