Turner says House `committed' to aiding horse racing industry

SPORTS DIGEST

March 10, 2007|By Sandra McKee

Representatives of Maryland's horse racing industry came away from hearings on five bills in the House Ways and Means Committee with positive feelings Thursday and yesterday.

Del. Frank S. Turner, chairman of the subcommittee that will now hold discussions on what legislation to recommend to the full committee, said he believes the House is "committed to helping" the horse-racing industry this year.

"I think we want to help the horse racing industry," Turner said. "It's important to the state. The question is how can we bring up the purses [to be competitive] with other jurisdictions. We might have to do it through financial help from the state. I don't see a great desire to embrace slot machines."

Turner indicated House Bill 1342, which would direct $2 million a month from the new horse racing lottery game to racing and breeding funds, may be one way to provide a minimum of $24 million a year - and possibly as much as $30 million if the lottery does better than projected.

"We'll begin discussions this week," he said. "I don't know how long they'll take, but our crossover date [for bills going to the Senate] is March 26. We've got to finish up by then."

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