Slots sites in Harford, Frederick, Baltimore counties suggested

November 13, 2007|By Bradley Olson and Josh Mitchell | Bradley Olson and Josh Mitchell,Sun reporters

Lawmakers should seriously consider adding Frederick County to the locations where slot machine gambling would be allowed under a proposal for a state referendum being weighed by the General Assembly, several delegates suggested yesterday in a brief hearing on the matter.

"This is a very popular part of the state that we've just kind of left alone," said Del. Frank S. Turner, a Howard County Democrat who chairs a House subcommittee that is considering a Senate bill on slots passed last week.

The bill calls for a voter referendum that would amend the state constitution and allow slots at five sites, in Baltimore City and in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties.

Others on the subcommittee appeared interested in moving the proposed Cecil County location to Harford County. And some asked whether 15,000 slot machines is the appropriate number.

The subcommittee is to continue discussing the bill today.

A proposal for slot machines near Interstate 95 in eastern Baltimore County appears to have gained little traction.

Businessman James T. Dresher Jr.'s proposal calls for 2,500 slots at an entertainment and restaurant complex he would build on industrial property near the Interstate 95-U.S. 40 interchange. That interchange is just west of the city-county line, near Rosedale.

Del. Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick, a Dundalk Democrat, said putting slots at that location would bring revenue to the county that could be used for a new school serving the area, where crowding is a long-standing problem.

But Minnick said it might be too late for the site to be included in any slots bill from the House.

"I just wish Mr. Dresher would have brought this forth a month ago, because we could have probably had that location included," Minnick said.

Del. Eric M. Bromwell, chairman of the county's House delegation, said he called a meeting on Dresher's plan Saturday because he wanted to make sure any idea for slots is heard. He said he would need to hear more details about the plan, including the impact on the surrounding area, before forming an opinion.

"At the very least, we have to be willing to listen," said Bromwell, a Democrat.

Sun reporter Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.

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