ANNAPOLIS – The casino gambling and racing industries seldom find common ground, but members of both trades said Friday they were comfortable with Parris N. Glendening’s promise to not expand gambling this year.
Ira Cooke, lobbyist for the Maryland Gaming Association, said he would like to see gambling expand, but is pleased that Glendening wants to examine the issue before making a move.
“On one hand we are disappointed because we believe Maryland could be on the cutting edge of legalized gambling in the Mid- Atlantic region,” Cooke said. “But at the same time we are glad the governor has found enough merit in the proposals to want a comprehensive study.
“The governor did not say there will be no gambling in Maryland.”
Gary Alexander, lobbyist for Horseshoe Casinos agreed.
“Of course the industry would rather see legislation passed, but now the state is going to take all the different aspects into consideration,” he said.
Dr. Allan Levey of the Maryland Racing Commission called Glendening’s decision “a very, very good choice.”
The government “needs to take into consideration not just the impact gambling has on racing, but its impact on the whole Maryland economy,” Levey said. “When an independent group compiles the facts, we can better decide what the impact will be.”
Tim Capps, communications director for the Maryland Jockey Club, said the state should research how casinos have affected the racing industry elsewhere.
“The evidence I’ve seen so far indicates gambling’s impact on racing is not very good,” Capps said. “I like that the process has been slowed down so we can examine things further.”
Alan Rifkin, who lobbies for the Jockey Club, also praised the governor.
“The impact of casinos could be highly detrimental to the state’s third-largest industry,” Rifkin said of the combined interests of horse breeders and racetracks. “I am pleased the governor recognized there are too many questions at this time.”
Edward Wayson Jr., who represents the Gaming Association of Maryland, said slowing the process down could help his industry.
“I felt our chances of establishing legal gambling in Maryland this year were remote,” Wayson said. “I would love Maryland to have the economic benefits of casino gambling, but it’s not going to happen this year.
“We need some expert advice.”
In fact, Wayson said, he pushed for a bill by Del. Sheila Hixson, D-Montgomery, to establish a state commission to study gambling’s impact. “The commission could then report back to the Legislature and governor on its findings,” Wayson said. -30-