Leading candidates in 24 Senate races vow to oppose slots

October 28, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A leading anti-gambling organization said yesterday that it has won promises from a prospective majority of the Maryland Senate to oppose the legalization of slot machines at Maryland racetracks.

NOcasiNO, a church-affiliated opponent of slots, said it has gathered signed pledges from the "certain or almost-certain" winners in 24 of the 47 senatorial districts. In many districts, both candidates signed.

The group claimed that three other senators have given strong verbal commitments to oppose any expansion of casino gambling but have personal policies against signing written pledges. If that is true, and if NOcasiNO's election projections prove accurate, the Senate would be in a position to block slots no matter who is elected governor.

In 18 districts, the organization is certain to have a declared ally in office because the signer is unopposed or both candidates have signed.

"The debate over casino-style gambling may continue, but the outcome is already decided," said Bernie Horn, executive director of the group's Maryland affiliate.

Horn said Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who adopted the slogan of "no casinos, no slots, no exceptions," in 1996, had signed the pledge. But he said Republican challenger Ellen R. Sauerbrey has rebuffed repeated requests to sign the pledge.

Sauerbrey has said she would oppose casinos but would not rule out slots at racetracks if they are needed to preserve the economic viability of Maryland's racing industry.

NOcasiNO also said it had gathered signed pledges to oppose slots from 83 candidates for the 141-member House of Delegates, where pro-gambling sentiment has been stronger.

The group said the 124 signers of the pledge come from all parts of the state. It said 61 signers, including Glendening, are Democrats and 63 are Republicans.

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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