Plan Calls for State, Not Racetracks, to Operate Slots

A plan is in the works to allow the state of Maryland, not racetrack owners, own slot-machine operations and hire members of the private sector to operate them.

The Washington Post reported House Speaker Michael Busch believes the state would make more money if maintained control over gaming operations. Gov. Robert Ehrlich's plan for racetrack slots failed to win approval during the most recent legislative session in Maryland.

"There's no reason why the state can't run it," Busch said in an interview with the Post. "I don't know why they all have to be at tracks...We ought to be looking at the places that are the most profitable to the state, not most beneficial to racetrack owners."

The House Ways and Means Committee is studying gambling options and will hold public hearings across the state.

Busch told the Post racetrack owners should get little or no profit from slot machines. He suggested located gambling facilities at state-owned properties such as parks and the Maryland State Fair at Timonium.

Under Ehrlich's proposal, the Magna Entertainment Corp.-owned Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, would have had a total of 7,000 slot machines.

"My biggest fear was giving one guy 7,000 slot machines," Busch told the Post. "I would say that was a pretty amazing deal. That's just too much power to give to one entity."