- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

ANNAPOLIS | Groups supporting slot machines in Maryland outspent opponents by about 7 to 1, raising about $7 million to persuade voters to support a constitutional amendment, which they did on Election Day.

The vote ended a long-running political battle in Annapolis, and the amendment carried in every Maryland county and in the city of Baltimore.

Final campaign disclosure reports released Wednesday show the pro-slots group called For Maryland, For Our Future raised the bulk of the money. Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., owner of Rosecroft Raceway, raised about $41,000, and a group called Unite Here, about $27,000.

The leading spender among anti-slots groups was Marylanders United to Stop Slots, which raised about $934,000.

Gambling interests topped the list of donors for the For Maryland group, which was headed by former state Budget Secretary Frederick W. Puddester. About $3.6 million was spent on advertising.

Laurel Racing Association Limited Partnership, which owns Laurel Park, where a slots parlor could be built, donated $3 million.

Penn National Gaming Inc., which is interested in building a slots parlor near the Interstate 95 toll booths in Cecil County, contributed $2 million.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees donated $500,000.

Allegany Racing Association, which is owned by William Rickman, contributed $375,000. Mr. Rickman owns Ocean Downs near Ocean City, where another slots parlor could be located.

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association donated $400,000 to the pro-slots campaign.

Money donated to Marylanders United to Stop Slots came in much smaller amounts and from a greater variety of sources, including church organizations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, businesses and individuals opposed to gambling, some of whom donated as little as $10. Ocean City businesses owners, who are concerned a slots parlor near the beach resort town will drain away business, also were frequent contributors.

A leading supporter of the anti-slots group was James G. Robinson, a Hollywood movie producer and Baltimore native. Mr. Robinson, the producer of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” donated $300,000 through corporations he owns.

The amendment that was passed by roughly 439,000 votes allows up to 15,000 slot machines in five locations, with one parlor each in Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties, the city of Baltimore and state-owned property at Rocky Gap State Park in western Maryland.

Bids for the five slot machine licenses must be submitted to the state by Feb. 1.

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