SLOTS REFERENDUM LEAVES FUTURE OF MARYLAND RACING IN THE HANDS OF ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY VOTERS

LAUREL PARK IS AN AUTHORIZED OPTION FOR COUNTY SLOTS CASINO IF VOTERS DECIDE AGAINST QUESTION A; IF NOT, THE RACING INDUSTRY FACES A “COMPLETE OVERHAUL

     LAUREL, MD. 10-29-10---At a Friday morning news conference at Laurel Park, Maryland Jockey Club officials said the future of Maryland racing is in the hands of the citizens of Anne Arundel County. A vote against Question A on Nov. 2 will keep slots out of Arundel Mills shopping mall and give Laurel Park a chance to compete for the Anne Arundel Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) license, which would create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue, as well as protect thousands of horse racing industry jobs.

     “The Cordish Companies have said that it is illegal for slots to be located at Laurel Park and that if Question A is defeated the county will not ever have a slots facility,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “That is just a massive misrepresentation intended to confuse the voters.  Laurel Park is an authorized slots site according under the law and to say otherwise is dishonest.”

     In 2010, the Maryland Jockey Club will conduct 146 days of live racing, including 126 at Laurel Park, which is located in-between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The organization also operates Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown in Baltimore City, and the Bowie Training Center in Prince George’s County.

Photo Credit: Jim McCue/MJC     “If Question A passes there will be a complete overhaul of Maryland racing,” added Chuckas. “Bowie will be closed, Laurel Park will be closed for live racing and turned into an off-track betting facility and there will be just 40 days of thoroughbred racing at Pimlico during the spring. I am not trying to use scare tactics. These are the facts.”

     “This is about the economy and the state of Maryland,” said Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president Richard Hoffberger. “If the slots go to Arundel Mills, it means the loss of 15,000 jobs in the horse industry and open space with the defection of farms. Whatever jobs that are being created at the mall can be generated at Laurel Park as well. Putting slots at Laurel Park would have  the added benefit of saving thousands of jobs, while creating new ones.”

     The central Maryland track, which first appeared on the racing scene in October 1911, is a place where racing occurs nearly every day of the year, and has enjoyed a strong relationship with the surrounding communities.  In 2008, when residents believed slots would go to Laurel Park, three of the four communities (Laurel, West Laurel and Maryland City) overwhelmingly supported the slots referendum because they believed it was an appropriate location for a 4,750-slot machine casino.

     “Laurel Park impact fees have funded new fire engines, our library, improvements on Route 198, and new technology for our schools,” said Raymond Szyperski, Chair, Laurel Impact Fund Advisory Committee, Maryland City resident. “The impact fees from slots at Laurel Park will go a long way to improve our community.”

     “If we vote against Question A, Laurel can get the jobs and revenue from slots and we’ll prevent the loss of thousands of jobs at the track and in the horse industry,” said Rayburn Smallwood, Chief, Maryland City Volunteer Fire Department, Maryland City resident.

     “I don’t want to see another housing development built where Laurel Park is now,” said Jeanne Mignon, teacher, citizen activist, and 17-year Russett resident. “The track has always been a good neighbor, plus it has a large natural buffer zone that protects the residents.”

     Laurel Park is positioned to be years ahead of the construction at Arundel Mills.  Last December, Laurel Park project manager Walter Lynch provided a detailed listing of the permits issued and already approved for the Laurel Park property, while Arundel Mills has yet to secure permit approvals.

     “If we are successful Tuesday, the Maryland Jockey Club is ready, willing and able to submit a first-class bid to the VLT committee,” added Chuckas. “The Laurel Park location can generate more money for the state. We are located closer to the D.C. suburbs and farther away from the proposed Baltimore City slots site.”