In 1992, Ehrlich proposed casino gambling at Harbor

He now wants only slots, and only at racetracks

February 05, 2003|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

As he battles for legislation allowing slot machines at racetracks, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has made it clear that he opposes any effort to expand casino gambling to the Inner Harbor.

He has come a long way since 1992.

Eleven years ago today, Ehrlich -- then a Baltimore County delegate -- co-sponsored a House bill with Del. John S. Arnick that would have permitted casino gambling at the Power Plant in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The 1992 legislation, which failed, would have allowed a variety of games -- including card games, wheels of fortune and Ehrlich's favorite, craps.

Ehrlich's current proposal would not permit those types of games at the four racetracks where he wants to install slot machines.

A copy of the bill was unearthed by Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat who has suggested that the Inner Harbor would be a worthy location to consider as the state seeks to benefit from increased gambling revenues.

"Where did I get such an outrageous idea? My governor," McFadden said as he gave a copy of the bill to a reporter.

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said, in effect: That was then, this is now.

Fawell said that after consulting with industry leaders, the governor has decided that the best course is to confine the expansion of gambling to slot machines, and only at Pimlico, Laurel, Rosecroft and a track to be built in Allegany County.

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