On May 9th, 2008, horse racing track owners upped the stakes on what should be done to save the horse racing industry of Maryland-and most of them say that it will need more than just slot machines. Magna Entertainment Corporation, the organization that owns the Laurel and Pimlico racing tracks, is looking to make partnerships with gambling interests, hotels and restaurants.
Officials of the company said that they are not ignoring offers to buy either racing tracks. Officials of the company said that they are in favor of the slots referendum, but a lot of people from the horse racing industry are disappointed that they have not done anything to prove those word.
Scott Borgemenke, the executive vice president of racing at Magna commented that they have not met yet with the people in charge of the slots campaign so they do not have any ideas on what support they can give because they are not personally running the campaign. Jim Steel of the Maryland Horse Breeders commented that Magna is facing some issues that makes it hard for the company to participate fully in the campaign.
A brand new audit of both the Laurel and Pimlico racing tracks found out that Laurel is losing a lot of money while the Preakness Horseracing event has become the main lifeline of the Maryland horse racing industry. State voters will decide in November whether to give permission to 15,000 slot machines to be place in five locations in the state-Baltimore, Ocean City, Western Maryland, Cecil and Anne Arundel counties.
It is widely expected that if Magna Entertainment successfully bids for a slots license, Laurel Park will receive slot machines. But Magna commented that the slot machines would not be enough to fix the problem. Borgemenke said that aside from the slot machines, the racing tracks needed to feature restaurants, hotels and other things that visitors to the racing tracks will need so that people will have a really good experience while visiting the racing tracks.
Company officials said that they are currently looking for partners in the gambling, hotel and restaurant industry because they are so much mired in debt that they are in danger of being removed from the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. Borgemenke commented that they are also considering selling some of their properties. Magna Entertainment said that the fate of Preakness Horse Race is not tied to the slots passage so fans can be rest assured that the race will continue.
Maine Gambling Board Member Mike Peters Quits Because of Stance on Slot Machines
On April 19, 2007, Mike Peters, a member of the Maine Gambling Control Board quit the board and voiced his opposition to the proposal to add to the number of slot machines in the state of Maine. In his resignation letter on April 3, 2007, addressed to Gov. John Baldacci, Peters from commented that the state must do everything in its power to stop the expansion of gambling.
In his letter, Peters further stated that Maine is not getting many benefits as planned from Maine's lone slot machine establishment, the Hollywood Slots of Bangor, and further expansion of gambling in the state could create more problems for the people in the area than benefit. Peters added that if they do not act now, the state will soon be overrun by gambling activities that will only benefit a few people rather than the whole state.
Just this month, the lawmakers in the state approved a proposal permitting the Passamaquoddy Tribe to construct and manage a harness racing track and resort with a slot machine facility in the Washington area. If Gov. John Baldacci rejects the bill as expected, Maine residents would vote on the proposal in a referendum that will be held in November.
Another Indian Tribe, the Penobscot Indian Nation, is also hoping for the lawmaker's approval to operate about 400 slot machines aside from their high-stakes bingo games on their own reservation. Mr. Peters, who was appointed to the gambling board since August 2004 also said that he is expecting other members to resign.
The representative of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Donald Soctomah commented that a racino facility featuring a hotel, conference area and different restaurants, would be a really big help for the Washington County, where the unemployment rate is high and the income is low.
Soctomah said that the state is being unfair on the matter, because they are thinking of expanding gambling in Bangor without giving the Passamaquoddy Tribe the same chance.