Some lawmakers bristle at money for Jockey Club
A House of Delegates committee yesterday weighed whether to allow track owners to use slots money to stay afloat -- an idea that has raised eyebrows among some lawmakers as newly released financial statements show the Jockey Club lost more than $25 million in 2008-2009.
The Sun's Hanah Cho reports:
Howard County Del. Frank S. Turner criticized the Jockey Club for not presenting a long-term plan for a viable racing industry in Maryland. "If I had a business losing $14 million and I came to the legislature [for help] but [didn't] have a long-term plan, I have a little problem with that," he said.
Also yesterday, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the state "should not be subsidizing racing."
"It should be able to stand on its own, or go by the wayside," the Southern Maryland Democrat said. Miller said discord among the industry players is to blame for some of the financial woes. "A lot of it, owners have brought on themselves because they can't agree to a proper and equitable solution."
Earlier in the legislative session, Sen. James E. DeGrange was among those who took umbrage with Jockey Club part-owner Penn Naional Gaming's simultaneous request for state money and legal maneuvers delaying an Anne Arundel slots parlor. Lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent interference between slots license-holders.
Hanah Cho reports that the recent financial statements from the Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico in Baltimore and Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County, shows it spend about $5 million on lobbying and legal fees in its failed bid to win a slots license for Laurel Park.
Cho writes: Laurel Park spent $3.4 million for lobbying and other expenses related to the referendum that legalized slot machine gambling at five Maryland locations in 2008. In 2009, Laurel Park paid $1.5 million to the Annapolis law firm Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, mostly for legal work related to the failed efforts to secure a slots license for the track. That is compared with $261,495 in attorney fees to Rifkin in 2008, according to financial documents.