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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Slots Dead in Maryland

- The legislative session ended in Maryland last night, and slots legislation died, failing to pass for the third straight year. Most of the blame is being directed at House Speaker Michael Busch, who thwarted the initiative the past two years as well.

[Governor] Ehrlich and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) told reporters they were astounded. Usually, when the two chambers disagree on a bill, the members appoint a conference committee to broker a compromise. Miller said yesterday that, in his 40 years in Annapolis, he's never seen a presiding officer refuse to negotiate over a bill.

"He's used his power of the speakership to thwart the will of the governor and the will of a majority of his constituents," he said. [Washington Post]
But there was plenty of blame to be spread elsewhere as well.
Del. Eric M. Bromwell, a Baltimore County Democrat who co-sponsored the House slots bill [which was far less favorable to racetracks, only providing for slots at Laurel], said he thinks the competing interests of those who want slots helped prevent the Senate from taking up his bill.

"From the get-go, even before the election ... there's been more pressure on the Senate to pass a bill that, quite frankly, is racetrack owner-oriented, and that's not necessarily a bill that brings in the most revenue for Maryland," Bromwell said. [Baltimore Sun]
So, how long now before we once again start hearing threats from Magna to move the Preakness to one of their other tracks?

- In New Orleans, Churchill Downs, desperate to install slots at its Fair Grounds track in the wake of their rejection at Calder, and failures to raise legislation in California, Kentucky and Indiana, faces a potentially contentious hearing on the subject today.

- VLT revenues in New York State are thus far below what Governor Pataki had been counting on.
The Pataki administration had forecast collecting about $240 million from the machines in the fiscal year that ended on March 31. But the take was just over $141 million, according to a spokesman for the state comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi. State officials and gambling experts cited two causes for the shortfall: The state has not yet opened as many parlors as it had planned, and some parlors that were opened have not met revenue expectations so far.
The projections were based on 5 racinos, and only 4 have opened thus far; and did not include revenue from the stalled projects at Aqueduct and Yonkers.
"However, the fact is that so far the V.L.T.'s in New York have seriously underperformed," [Bennett] Liebman said.

Mr. Liebman said the national average is about $250 per day for each video lottery terminal. In New York, he said, the average intake was much less: about $170 at the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, for instance. [NY Times]
Mr. Liebman is, among other things, the proprietor of the Albany Law School Racing and Wagering page, from which a lot of the material used on this site comes from.

- Martin Wygod needs to shut up. Now.
Wygod said it was not his idea to misidentify Sweet Catomine to security at Santa Anita.

"The mentality of the van guy might have something to do with this," Wygod said. "I think he did what was done on his own. We had said that there would be a lot of curiosity seekers, and we wanted everything done low-profile, but never … did we want him to do what he did." [LA Times]
So, he wanted the driver to sneak her off to the hospital, but not this way? Perhaps he should have disguised her as Corey Nakatani? And regarding pulling his horses from Juan Canani, Wygod said, "This has nothing to do with the investigation against me." [SignonSanDiego] Please.

- Robert Bailes, the owner of Scrappy T, who finished third behind Bellamy Road was interested in buying the winner at auction.
Not only was his horse beaten 18 1/4 lengths, but Bailes tried unsuccessfully to buy Bellamy Road at the Ocala Breeders' Sales auction in April 2004. Bailes said he dropped out around the $60,000 mark. George Steinbrenner bought Bellamy Road for $87,000.

"I put a value on what I thought the horse was worth at the time,'' Bailes said. "I made the wrong value.." [Daily Racing Form]