- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Anti-gambling activists are pressing their case against slot machines in Maryland as the race for governor gains momentum.
Three activists met privately last week with U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the Republican candidate in the governor's race. But they failed to persuade him to drop his support for allowing slots at Maryland's horse-racing tracks.
"In a pie-in-the-sky world, we would have loved to have changed his mind," said Kim Roman of NocasiNo Maryland. "But that's not going to happen."
Miss Roman and NocasiNo's co-chairman, Barbara Knickelbein, attended the half-hour meeting with Mr. Ehrlich, along with Carol Colbeth of the Baltimore-Washington conference of the United Methodist Church.
Mr. Ehrlich's position on slots is at odds with that taken by Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has not formally announced her candidacy.
She made one of her strongest statements on the issue at a news conference in Silver Spring this week.
"I've been very clear that I'm against slots," Mrs. Townsend said. "I do not think they're the answer to any of the problems we have in Maryland."
Mrs. Townsend warned that slots hurt the poor and tend to attract crime. She said Maryland is "progressive enough" to fund its needs in other ways.
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley has not announced whether he will enter the governor's race. But a spokesman, Stephen J. Kearney, said the mayor supports allowing slots at racetracks.
Mr. Ehrlich said Thursday that he sees slots as a way to help Maryland's ailing horse-racing industry while providing revenue for education reforms.
He said he favors allowing state-run slots at Maryland's thoroughbred race tracks and at off-track betting parlors. He said voters in a community with such facilities should be allowed to "opt out."

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