OTB approval a good bet

March 11, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- The Senate passed and sent to the House yesterday a bill that would set up off-track betting parlors in Maryland. The vote was 27-18.

Senate Bill 392, officially known as the Horse Racing Act of 1992, is a better-than-even-money favorite in the House of Delegates.

"It will probably pass [but] I don't know in what form. I haven't seen their version of it," said Del. Tyras S. Athey, D-Anne Arundel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which will take up the measure.

The Senate version, sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, was amended only once on the floor.

Sen. John A. Pica, a Baltimore Democrat, amended the bill to give local zoning boards authority over the placement of off-track betting parlors, or "sports palaces," in the parlance of the bill's supporters.

"State-sanctioned bookie joints," sniffed Sen. John A. Cade, an Anne Arundel County Republican who tried to amend the bill in various ways on Friday but lost each battle.

Mr. Cade, like others who opposed the bill, seemed resigned to its passage. Instead of attempting to defeat the measure, they tried unsuccessfully to get a bigger share of revenues for the state.

The bill's supporters argued that higher taxes would cripple Maryland's racing industry.

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