Rosecroft sale fails, again

Feb 22, 2005 9:04 AM

When the Angelos family, whose patriarch Peter Angelos owns the Baltimore Orioles, agreed to acquire troubled harness track Rosecroft Raceway for $13 million, there were few doubters that the goal was to benefit from a slots bill being debated by Maryland lawmakers.

So, when the family backed out of the deal at the last minute, observers felt that it sent a strong signal that the slots bill was in trouble.

But, the more realistic view was that even if the bill is approved by the House — it already has passed the Senate — a modification of the bill would preclude Rosecroft from being licensed for slot machines. The reason, said some, was because of the stated objections of the House of Delegates members from Prince George’s County. They voted unanimously against putting slot machines in their county.

The action by the Prince George’s County delegates also would place in jeopardy slots at famed Pimlico Race Course, whose majority owner is Magna Entertainment Corporation (MECA).

A spokesman for Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a strong proponent of racetrack slots, attempted to downplay the significance of the Angelos’ action by saying, "The governor does not believe that the news is going to hurt or help passage of his slots bill."

Nevertheless, the action by the Angelos family complicated the future of the slots bill. In the Senate, action was taken to make the bill more acceptable to the Prince George’s County delegates, but the effort failed. Even House Speaker Michael Busch indicated he was not impressed by the Senate changes.

In the governor’s bill, slots would be approved for Rosecroft, Pimlico and Laurel, both owned by Magna Entertainment, and a track to be built in Allegany County.