Will Maryland Track Sale Facilitate Slots?

The family of Baltimore Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos signed an agreement Nov. 20 to buy Rosecroft Raceway, a struggling harness track in southern Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. The deal, if approved by the Maryland Racing Commission, would likely enhance the chances of slot machines being authorized in the state.

Angelos, a Thoroughbred owner, wields significant influence in the state capital, where lawmakers in January will debate for the third consecutive year the possible legalization of slots in the state. The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, has been among the groups pushing for slots.

Major League Baseball prohibits a team owner from holding gambling interests. But Angelos' wife and son, who are not owners of the Orioles, can own a racetrack. They agreed to pay $13 million for Rosecroft, which had faced foreclosure at auction Dec. 2.

Tom Chuckas Jr., president and chief executive officer of Rosecroft, said the Angelos deal would allow the track to resolve the dispute with its mortgage holder. The Angelos group also signed a 10-year purse agreement that would ensure the continuation of racing.

Should slots be approved for Rosecroft, 8% of the ownership group's net revenue would go to purses under the agreement.