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Horse Racing Subsidies Well Spent, Md. Governor Says

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Calvin Borel crosses the finish line, winning the 2009 Preakness Stakes.
Patrick Madden
Calvin Borel crosses the finish line, winning the 2009 Preakness Stakes.

This week, O'Malley signed a bill that directs money from slot machine casinos to race tracks in the state, allowing them to run their normal racing schedules. And while he's happy it was done, O'Malley says it's not the final answer.

"Seems like every year we step up in order to secure racing for another year. I'm looking forward to that day that we step up and secure racing for another generation or two, not just another year or two," he says.

Agreement on the bill was reached during the last hours of the final day of the General Assembly's yearly session, and it was a tough fight for supporters. O'Malley blames that on lingering resentment over the battle for the largest license for a slots casino in the state. Cordish Companies is building the casino at Arundel Mills Mall, but it had to beat back a voter referendum that would have instead put the casino at Laurel Park race track. Now that that is decided, O'Malley sees smoother sailing is ahead.

"When there's a lot of money at stake in something like a slots license, people do things like bring lawyers to the table, forcing things to referendum. All sorts of brinksmanship and gamesmanship goes on," he says.

Only two of the five casinos the state allows for are open. The Arundel Mills casino will open in 2012, while bids have not been accepted for the other two licenses.

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