Magna Makes Pitch for Slots in Maryland

Revitalization of Pimlico Race Course could begin immediately and be completed within 24 months if slots legislation is passed in Maryland, Magna Entertainment Corp. president Jim McAlpine told members of the Maryland General Assembly on Monday.

In a presentation to the House Appropriations Committee, McAlpine said revenues from slots would speed up the company's timetable for Pimlico because Magna would be able to borrow against gambling revenues for construction.

"For sure, Pimlico needs to rebuild," said McAlpine, who was joined by Joe DeFrancis, president and chief executive of the Maryland Jockey Club, which still hold a minority interest in Pimlico and Laurel Park.

Committee chairman Howard Rawlings said concerns remain that DeFrancis and his sister, Karen, will continue to receive profits from slots for 20 years even if they sell their remaining interest in the tracks, the Baltimore Sun reports.

However, DeFrancis said his agreement with Magna does not impact the amount of revenue the state will receive. The partners would split only profits that remain after expenses, which includes purse money, the state's share for the general fund, and payments for loans and other costs.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich has proposed charging an up front licensing fee for slots that would give the state between $200 million to $400 million for next year's budget. He believes slots could generate $800 million a year for the state once installed. It would require nearly 3,500 slot machines at each track.