- I'll get back to the Breeders' Cup results a bit later tonight; but it's certainly newsworthy that the Maryland legislature convenes a special session today, at which slots will be one of the issues to be dealt with. As always, Alan H. and Baloo over at The Bug Boys have more about the latest on the proposal; and they also report that they'll be no racing or training on Friday so that horsemen can rally at the State House. This is serious business to be sure. And though the always contentious issues of taxes - income, property, and sales - are on the agenda, the Washington Post calls Governor O'Malley's slots proposal to put the question to the electorate in the form of a November, 2008 referendum his toughest sell.
..Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) again expressed opposition to a referendum yesterday, saying O'Malley is well short of securing the necessary votes in the Senate.According to another article in the paper, the prospective slots parlor at Laurel would be constructed in the present grandstand, and a new one would be built on the other side of the track!
"I counseled him not to call a special session until he has the votes, but he's determined to go forward anyway," Miller, a leading slots proponent, told reporters.
Putting slots on the ballot -- most likely in November 2008 -- would give opponents a year to mobilize, Miller said. And gambling interests in West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania, where slots are already legal, would likely be among those pouring money into efforts to oppose slots in Maryland, he said.
O'Malley "threw his plan under the bus by agreeing to a referendum before we even started," Miller said. [Wash Post]
Relocating the grandstand would involve moving about 1,000 stalls, [Lou] Raffetto said, costing about $12,000 a stall. The entire demolition and construction project, which could be completed in 18 months, is estimated to cost more than $200 million, he said. [Wash Post]By the way, as you may know, Magna purchased the remaining shares of the Maryland Jockey Club from the DeFrancis family in November. However, the DeFrancises still have a huge stake in the outcome, as they formed a management company called Maryland Ventures which, as part of the deal with Magna, would get 65 percent of the profits during the first five years, 50 percent the next five years and 40 percent in the following 10 years. Nice.
One more point - it really pisses me off to read about how the gambling interests in surrounding states will pour in money to defeat any referendum that might make it to the ballot. And of course they will, and I don't see how they could frame it in anyway to make it appear to be anything but what it would be - pure greed. If they really cared about racing, as the companies that are or will be operating racinos always claim to be, they'd know and care that a healthy industry in Maryland is a good thing for the sport, and not only because it's the home of the Preakness. Instead, they'll try to effectively kill Maryland racing off by working to deny the industry what it needs to survive; and all for the sake of their own bottom line.