UPDATE: With 40 percent of the votes in, the measure is ahead by around 10,000 votes--a 13-point lead. Joe Torre, head of the Arundel County Board of Elections, says all the votes may not be counted until midnight. Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas acknowledged that his side has lost tonight and that drastic cuts to horse racing are imminent. Chuckas says it's likely the training facility in Bowie will close, Pimlico will only open race for racing 40 days a year and all live racing at Laurel will cease.
The future of Maryland's horse racing industry, as well as the state's finances, could rest on a ballot measure before voters today in Anne Arundel County.
If approved, Ballot Question A would allow slot machines at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover. That means there would not be slot machines at nearby Laurel Park racetrack.
Many in Maryland's struggling horse racing industry say putting slots at the racetrack is its last, best hope for recovery.
But if Question A goes down tonight, that could mean several more months--if not years--of delay for the slot machines, which were expected to bring in millions for the county and the state.
Tommy Clark lives near Arundel Mills Mall. He voted against the measure, but says he thinks Question A will ultimately pass "because I think...more of the local people, right here in this area, do not want it. And I think in other areas they could probably care less. I'd probably feel the same way if it wasn't in my neighborhood."
Clark says people in his neighborhood didn't expect slot machines to be at Arundel Mills when they voted to allow them in Maryland two years ago.