Maryland Proposal: Up to 16,000 Racetrack Slots

Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. will propose 13,500 slot machines for three racetracks in time to generate $600 million in state tax revenue in two years, legislative sources told the Baltimore Sun.

The Ehrlich proposal adopts the racing industry's recommendations on the size and location of the gambling operations at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and Rosecroft Raceway. It also envisions up to 2,500 more machines at a track near Cumberland in western Maryland at a later date.

Ehrlich did not include Ocean Downs, an Eastern shore harness track, in his proposal, the Sun reported. The proposed 4,500 slots at each of the three tracks go well beyond the estimates provided by Ehrlich last year.

The Rev. Tom Grey, executive director of the Illinois-based National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, said Ehrlich's proposal amounts to sprinkling large casinos around the state.

The governor's plan drew the opposition of one of the General Assembly's foremost proponents of slot machines.

"I would vote against slot machines of that magnitude," said Del. Howard Rawlings, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "They exceed the level of slot machines in Atlantic City and Las Vegas."