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Lower Shore Divided Over Slots at Ocean Downs

On October 30th, 2007, the news that the Ocean Downs Racing Track would be one of the location of the slots under the plan of Gov. Martin O'Malley's slots proposal came as a surprise for the lower shore, especially with the racing track owners and state officials. Critics of the slots plan said that with the governor's backing, Ocean Downs has a good advantage as a good location for the slot machines if the gambling fundraising scheme is passed.

Even with this support, Ocean Downs part owner Bill Rickman commented that this is just a single step on achieving approval for the slot machines before they could even dream of operating the machines on Maryland. The governor's proposal is composed of two phases.

First, the slot machines or the video lottery terminals proposal would need to ratified by 3/5 majority in both the Senate and the House. Once given approval, the voters would decide on whether or not to allow the slot machines during the 2008 election. Rickman commented that he has been a long backer of the slot machines but has not participated in any form of lobbying to make sure that Oceans Downs will get the slot machines.

Slots critics argue that lobbyists have been spending millions of dollars since 2002 to feature the industry appear more family oriented, according to Director Susan Jones from the Ocean City Hotel/Motel Restaurant Association.

The goal of the vote also does not make her feel at ease because residents from other states can decide on something that would not be place on them. Lawmakers going into Annapolis commented that they have learned about the proposal of the governor at the same time as the general public but the backing for Ocean Downs has not persuade some opinion change.

Senator J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Republican-38-Somerset commented that the support of the governor will not change their opinion. Ex Ocean City mayor and now Delegate Jim Mathias commented that he knows the concerns of his town but he must also consider the welfare of the whole state.


Monday, 19 November 2007
Theo Evans