Letters To The Editor


September 29, 2005

Puncturing the myths about racing industry

The article "Racing Toward Oblivion?" (Sept. 25) mentions several myths that are endemic to the horse racing industry but that have little basis in fact.

A report released by the Maryland Tax Education Foundation investigated the myths and determined the following:

Myth 1: Horse racing cannot compete with casino gambling. In the 1990s, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan legalized many casinos. Not one racetrack went bankrupt. Pari-mutuel betting stayed constant in Indiana and Illinois, and declined 13 percent in Michigan. Over the same period, Kentucky became surrounded on three sides by casinos, and pari-mutuel betting there increased by 2 percent annually. The different kinds of wagering do not have substantial crossover.

Myth 2: Higher purses from slot machines increase racing activity. With the introduction of slots, purses at West Virginia and Delaware tracks tripled and doubled, respectively. However, live handle (the total amount bet) and attendance are stagnant, with some increase in "export" simulcast betting. Over the past 10 years, neither state experienced a significant increase in either racing days or horse breeding. In both West Virginia and Delaware, the vast majority of slots profits went into more slots facilities or higher dividends rather than racing improvements.

Myth 3: Magna Entertainment Corp. loses money on Maryland racing. Magna's Maryland operations report an operating loss on their filings with the Maryland Racing Commission. However, our research suggests the filings understate income from concessions and parking, while expensing a management fee that might be construed as a dividend. Making such adjustments turns a "loss" into a profit.

Jeff Hooke, Chevy Chase

The writer is chairman of the Maryland Tax Education Foundation.

Why won't meters take paper money?

After reading about the new state-of-the-art parking meters Baltimore is planning to install, I was fascinated by one point: The machines do not accept paper dollars. They will accept only coins and credit or debit cards ("Time is running out for city's old parking meters," Sept. 20).

So I keep asking myself, why would the city invest more than $4 million on a system with such a design flaw?

Don't more people carry paper bills than coins?

I hope the city will rethink this purchase and opt for machines that are more paper-money-friendly.

Joe Rider

Glen Burnie

Editorial reveals contempt for Israel

The offensive reliability of The Sun's anti-Israel stance was repeated yet again in the editorial "Rebuilding Gaza" (Sept. 18).

The editorial refers to violent street battles between roving gangs of gun-wielding Palestinian thugs as "robust expressions of sectarian loyalty."

The vast and vacant stretches of uninhabited sand where religious Jews built schools and synagogues are termed "prime seaside land."

The identical Mediterranean coast where the Palestinian Arabs live amid trash and rubble of their own creation is called "a few dusty towns and several squalid refugee camps."

The Jewish community of Baltimore remains aware of The Sun's contempt for the Jewish state.

As intelligent readers, however, we can at least expect that The Sun will desist from making its bias so blatantly and unprofessionally obvious.

Darrell M. Zaslow


Ask Iraq to repay war costs with oil

While I don't have a problem with the idea of our nation trying to conserve on fuel over the next few months ("Bush urges conservation to ease nation's fuel shortage," Sept. 27), I think President Bush should try another approach as well. He should require that Iraq begin repaying the United States for the costs of the war, and he should insist that this repayment be in the form of crude oil.

This approach would not only help the United States with its oil supply and fuel costs, it would also encourage the people of Iraq to take on their own national security posthaste.

Jim Curtis

Maple Valley, Wash.

Setting bad example on fuel conservation

Let's see: Air Force One holds 53,611 gallons of jet fuel. President Bush has made seven photo-op trips to the hurricane disaster area. Then he requests the American public to not make unnecessary trips and to reduce their gasoline usage ("Bush urges conservation to ease nation's fuel shortage," Sept. 27)?

Where are the days of "lead by example"?

Jeff Tarleton


A disturbing pairing of frivolity, tragedy

There are many things that disturb me about The Sun's new format, but I believe they can all be summed up by the following: The shocking juxtaposition of the headlines (and accompanying photographs) "Funky Fashion" and "Bomb Destroys U.S. Armored Vehicle" at the top of the front page Sept. 27. This layout was, in a word, grotesque.

We need, and should have, levity and entertainment in our lives, but we should not diminish the gravity of war and other tragedies so carelessly.

Karen Hammer


Rehabilitation through exercise

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