SLOTS MONEY ON THE TABLE IN MARYLAND?

At a recent round of VTA and VHBPA board meetings, VBHPA Executive Director Frank Pertamalo predicted the stalemate over racing days in Maryland was a strategic move by MJC and Penn Gaming to get some additional slot revenue.  Looks like his prediction was spot on…

According to the Thoroughbred Times: With no agreement in place for racing dates in 2011, Maryland is considering awarding a percentage of slot machine money to the Maryland Jockey Club.

Representatives of Maryland Jockey Club owners MI Developments Inc. and Penn National Gaming Group Inc. met with Maryland state officials in a closed-door meeting at the State House on Monday. While several news outlets reported no agreement was reached, the state did reveal it is considering subsidizing state tracks.

Rick Abbruzzese, spokesman for Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, told the Daily Record in Baltimore that the state is considering changes to its current payouts of slot machine revenue. Currently the state commits 7% of video lottery terminal revenue to purses and breeder funds and 2.5% to a racetrack facility improvement fund but no money goes directly to track owners.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, missed out on an opportunity to secure VLT revenue as an operator when it failed to land a license for Laurel. Maryland’s VLT legislation allows site operators to collect up to 33% of slot machine revenues but the license the Maryland Jockey Club pursued for Laurel was awarded to a nearby mall.

Representatives of horsemen and breeders also attended Monday’s meeting, which failed to resolve the impasse on 2011 racing dates. The Maryland Jockey Club has proposed a 47-date schedule (17 dates at Laurel and 30 at Pimlico) that was rejected by the Maryland Racing Commission on November 29. Horsemen have asked for a schedule at least equal to the 146 dates offered in 2010.

Abburzzese told the Daily Record that any subsidy to tracks would require a return, presumably added racing dates.