- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) — Members of the House Ways and Means Committee who killed the governor’s slot machines bill last session have toured the Compulsive Gambling Center and the state fairgrounds as they continued studying the effect of bringing slot machines to the state.

More than a dozen committee members toured the Baltimore center, Timonium fairgrounds, Winbak Farm and Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City on Thursday.

Robert A. McKee, Washington County Republican, said he wants slot machines at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, Rosecroft Raceway, the state fairgrounds and Ocean Downs track. He was one of the five committee members who backed the slot machine legislation during the 2003 General Assembly session.

“Maryland has a revenue problem and the alternative is to either increase taxes or continue severe program cuts,” Mr. McKee said after a tram ride through the fairgrounds.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wants to authorize slot machines at racetracks, and the state Senate approved his slots bill last session. However, the Republican governor’s bill was killed by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. McKee said he’s now finding that people are also in favor of expanding gambling.

“The message I’ve received so far is that they’re not as opposed to slots as we were led to believe during the session,” he said.

Committee Chairman Sheila E. Hixson, Montgomery County Democrat, said her committee will consider traffic issues and community reaction before making their decision in December.

“We’re open and listening,” she said.

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