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March 16, 2011

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. 

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 10:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: 2011 legislative session, Slots
        

Comments

No surprise here!! There was NEVER a concern about the racing industry. It was simply used to get slots in MD as a way to get more money for the incompetent politicians.

I suggest closing and selling Laurel Park for new development and then putting the City slots at Pimlico and rebuilding it. It has history and could become a destination - give it table games too. Mount Washington neighbors messed everything up by denying slots there. Let's fix it and put slots at the track with history and tradition. I'd visit that over Arundel Mills.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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