The group, led locally by Baltimore businessman Anthony Fugett, has met in Annapolis with key black legislative leaders, according to sources familiar with the effort. The investors also have had talks with Joseph A. De Francis and other owners of the Pimlico and Laurel Park racetracks.
Fugett declined to comment, referring questions to a spokesman for the group, Adrian Harpool, chief executive of Twenty-First Century Communications in Baltimore.
"I will confirm that the team was in Annapolis yesterday [Wednesday] and that Julius Erving was with the team," Harpool said.
Harpool declined to discuss other details of the group's efforts, and he would not confirm that members had met with De Francis to discuss buying a minority stake in Pimlico Race Course.
De Francis did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment on whether the track's owners would be willing to accept a minority partner.
The group is making its effort amid a strong push by key African-American lawmakers to ensure that black businesspeople have some level of "equity ownership" in the state's tracks.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has proposed allowing 10,500 slot machines at four racetracks to raise money to solve the state's budget woes and to help Maryland's ailing horse racing industry.
Black lawmakers note that two of the Maryland tracks in line to get 3,000 slot machines each - Pimlico in Baltimore and Rosecroft in Southern Prince George's County - are in predominantly black communities.
The other two proposed slots venues are at Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County and a track planned for Allegany County.
A second group of black business people has been meeting with Prince George's-area legislators about opportunities to get involved with slots at Rosecroft or - if slots are expanded beyond the tracks - at the nearby National Harbor development.
One potential participant is Don H. Barden, a black businessman from Detroit who owns casinos in Las Vegas, Tunica, Miss., Colorado and Indiana.
Barden was seen outside a legislative hearing room Wednesday talking with state Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah, a Prince George's Democrat, and others from that county's legislative delegation.
Ehrlich has told members of the Legislative Black Caucus that he is prepared, if necessary, to write into his revised slots bill specific language calling for a certain level of minority ownership in the three Central Maryland tracks, according to a State House source.
The levels discussed were 10 percent ownership at Pimlico and Laurel Park, which are owned by the Canada-based Magna Entertainment Corp., and 15 percent at Rosecroft.
The minority ownership could be worth tens of millions of dollars. In some states, minority partners in casino ventures have sold their interest within a few years for many times their original investment.