Rosecroft study: Poker rooms good for state

Posted: 7:15 pm Tue, January 26, 2010
By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

A new study shows if poker rooms were legalized at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County, the gaming revenue could total up to $42 million per year for the county and state and produce up to 1,500 union jobs.

The study was commissioned by Mark Vogel, the owner-in-waiting for the harness racing track that is in bankruptcy, and was conducted by Florida-based Innovation Group. Vogel’s purchase of the track is awaiting approval from a bankruptcy judge.

The Greenbelt developer said he’s passing the preliminary results of the study around Annapolis in an effort to drum up interest in legislation related to Rosecroft he is pushing to be introduced in this year’s legislative session.

One of those bills will be to legalize poker rooms at the race track.

The study’s preliminary results also found that table games could produce between $250 million and $300 million in total revenue, about half of which would come from out-of-state players.

“I think it’s going to be hard for them to turn down,” Vogel said Tuesday. “When you have a deficit as big as you have and unemployment as bad as it is, I think this would have been harder [to pass] a year ago than it would be now.”

Vogel has hired Annapolis lobbyist Gerald Evans to push for Rosecroft’s legislation this year. Evans said the bill legalizing table games at Rosecroft would be similar to the slots legislation passed in 2007 — proposing a constitutional amendment that would have to be approved by Prince George’s County voters in the fall. If passed, Evans said the next legislative session would address how the table games would be structured.

Another bill that would allow what’s called “instant racing” machines at Rosecroft will also be introduced this year, Evans said. Instant racing machines are essentially video libraries of tens of thousands of previously run horse races that a player can bet on. Winning wagers are paid from a pari-mutuel pool, just as live racing wagers are paid.

The idea was first introduced last year in two bills by county Democrats Sen. Anthony Muse and Del. Jay Walker.

Evans said he believed the number of part- and full-time jobs that would be created with the legalization of table games is a top selling point.

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