Saturday, February 24, 2007

Slots bill dies quietly

Slot machines are dead once more in the Maryland legislature. Is the state’s horse racing industry next to go? Below are some great quotes from The Baltimore Examiner.

A bill legalizing slots was quietly tabled in the Ways and Means Committee with new Gov. Martin O’Malley preferring to deal with it in 2008. A double-blow came when a racing industry proposal for $30 million in purse supplements to remain competitive with neighboring states was halved.
If you never attend racing, you may wonder, “So what?” Well, when that pretty green space of a farm becomes another housing development — clogging roads and overcrowding schools that further elevate state and property taxes to accommodate new residents — you’ll understand the sport’s importance.
Pennsylvania racing’s recent rise shows how quickly slots could restore Maryland. Philadelphia Park was nearly a haunted house in recent years, but slots filling the old grandstand recently caused a 40-car deep wait for valet parking. A percentage of profits for purses produced a fourfold increase over projections. The track now pays $300,000 daily in purses.
Maryland’s breeding industry is hemorrhaging. The 20,000 jobs related to thoroughbred racing are at risk. And don’t think the Preakness Stakes is untouchable.

One more year might be all Maryland racing can truly wait. It’s already a decade behind.

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