Industry's input on slots given to Ehrlich

Proposals include request to include Ocean Downs

Horse Racing

January 10, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The Maryland racing industry has submitted to Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. its recommendations on how slot machines should be allocated and slots revenue divided.

Tom Bowman, president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, presented the proposals Wednesday night to representatives of the Ehrlich transition team. The recommendations were the result of nearly one month of intensive meetings among industry leaders trying to reach consensus on key issues involving slot machines.

Ehrlich plans on revenue from slots funding a large portion of the state budget. He is expected to file a bill as early as next week that would legalize the machines at Maryland racetracks.

Bowman, who headed the industry effort at Ehrlich's request, stressed that the recommendations are advisory only and that he expects Ehrlich to reject some and adjust others.

The racing leaders proposed that slots should not only be installed at the four tracks favored by Ehrlich - Pimlico, Laurel Park, Rosecroft Raceway and a track being built in Allegany County - but also at Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore.

Bowman said Ehrlich's aides already had made it clear that Ehrlich opposes slot machines at Ocean Downs and at the Timonium fairgrounds. William Rickman Jr., who owns Ocean Downs, pushed for his track's inclusion in any slots plan, according to several people who attended the meetings.

The industry also proposed sliding scales, based on money wagered, for how revenue should be divided. The state would receive 37 percent initially, and up to 55 percent later. Track operators would receive 49 percent initially, down to 41 percent later.

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