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Friday, February 25, 2005

Slots Pass Maryland House

- In a blanket finish, legislation legalizing slots in Maryland passed the House of Delegates with 71 votes, the precise number needed to pass. Many lawmakers stood and cheered after the final vote was tallied. [Baltimore Sun] Next step is to try and reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions, which differ on the number of machines and their locations, with the Senate bill allowing for slots at up to 4 racetracks, and the House for only Laurel. As far as money for the racing industry:

House: Sets aside 15 percent of proceeds for local development grants to counties and Baltimore, with funds distributed based on lottery sales in each jurisdiction; 3 percent in grants to jurisdictions hosting slots; and 9 percent to enhance horse-racing purses and aid the breeding industry.

Senate: Earmarks 4.75 percent of proceeds to aid governments that host slots facilities and 5.25 percent for purses and breeding. [Washington Post]
In reading these stories I couldn’t help but notice an adjacent story about a panel in the same Maryland House debating a bill today calling for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and to invalidate in the state any such marriages performed elsewhere. Similar bills have failed in past years, and the measures are given little chance of passage this year. [Baltimore Sun] Given the Democrats’ 2-1 majority in each House of the Md legislature, it certainly doesn’t seem likely these bills will pass. But even if they did pass the measures and deny gay couples rights and privacy that others enjoy, I’m sure the state will still accept any money they gamble away on slots.