ANNAPOLIS - The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday heard a bill proposed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich and 10 other bills dealing with slot machine gambling.
Many of the arguments used in previous years - more money for school construction and education, creation of jobs, establishment of a stable revenue source, stemming the loss of revenue to other states - came up again, but with an added emphasis on what officials said was a decline of horse breeding and horse racing in the state.
The legalization of slot machine gambling in neighboring states, notably West Virginia and Delaware, has put Maryland's horse industry in a crisis posture, Sec. James D. Fielder of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said. As racing days at the state's tracks have decreased, racing days at Charles Town Races & Slots in Charles Town, W.Va., have risen from 182 to 245. A major component, Fielder said, was the expansion of slot machine gambling at horse tracks.