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Monday, February 28, 2005

Muddled in Maryland

- With the dust settling in Maryland after the House of Delegates narrowly passed slots legislation on Friday, one thing is clear, and that is, that nothing is clear as to what the final legislation will look like….if there is a final legislation. An article in the Washington Post yesterday discusses how the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Michael Busch, a Democrat and a slots foe, holds all the cards on the slots legislation which is still a long way from resolution, given the vast differences between the versions passed by the Senate and the House. Busch has vowed that he will not compromise, but denies that his position is influenced by personal events.

In the three years since Busch became speaker, he has never been coy about his views on slots. Lawmakers have mused over the notion that the roots of his opposition lie with the gambling problems that consumed his father, who died in 1997 in a flophouse on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

But the burly, silver-haired speaker brushes off that suggestion, saying he merely wants to prevent the state from handing out valuable gaming licenses to a few well-heeled, politically connected insiders.

"I just don't think slots is good public policy," Busch said Friday, after the legislation passed the House. [Washington Post]
Busch goes on to make it clear exactly what his motivation was in shepherding through a bill that would provide for slots at only one track, Laurel Park.
Lawmakers have contemplated a range of proposals, several of which identified by name the sites where slots would go. The bills essentially pledged licenses to such wealthy horse track owners as Joseph De Francis and William Rickman and to developers and businessmen such as Baltimore bakery magnate John Paterakis Sr., National Harbor's Milton Peterson and the family of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos.

Busch said it was that, more than anything else, that helped shape the House's alternate proposal this year
Though the House bill would provide $100 million per year to purses, the Senate bill would do more to enrich racetrack owners as the actual operators of the parlors. In addition, the House bill increased the harness industry’s share to 30% from 10%.
The harness side argues that 30% of the betting at the state's major tracks takes place at Rosecroft. The Thoroughbred side counters that, regardless of where it's bet, 90% of horse wagering in the state is on Thoroughbred racing. [Bloodhorse]

Cajun Pepper never heats up as Southern Africa wins Borderland Derby [Thoroughbred Times] Couldn't put it better myself.

Saint Liam, who is scheduled to arrive from Florida on Thursday, was given high weight of 122 pounds for the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap, which will be run for the 68th time Saturday. [LA Times]