Gov. William Donald Schaefer plans to veto legislation that would permit video poker and slot machines in Harford County if the bills pass the General Assembly.
Schaefer is opposed to the legislation, introduced in the state Senate on Feb. 4. He is concerned that poker and slot machines in the county would open the door to gambling and organized crime, said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's press secretary.
"He feels that their proliferation could potentially lead to problems down the road," Schurick said.
Two bills are at issue, both sponsored by Sen. William H. Amoss, D-District 35A, and Sen. Habern W.Freeman, D-District 34.
The bills would allow establishments withliquor licenses, such as bars and private clubs, to have two video poker machines.
The second would permit slot machines in private clubs, such as the American Legion.
For the last three years, some county veterans' groups have lobbied the county delegation to have themachines legalized.
Officers at the clubs say the machines could raise money for the organizations, and they pledge to put some of theproceeds into community projects.
The bills are scheduled for hearings before the senate Judicial Proceedings Committee March 6. No bills on the issue have been introduced in the House of Delegates.
The county's seven-member delegation, which supports the bills, was given a status report on the legislation during its regular meeting Friday.
The bills are modeled after legislation that permits slot machines in Maryland's eight Eastern Shore counties, including Cecil County. That legislation passed the assembly and was signed by the governor four years ago.
Schaefer said at the time the legislation was approved for the Eastern Shore that he would not permit the expansionof slot machines and video poker machines in other parts of the state, Schurick said.
Despite Schaefer's threatened veto, Amoss said he doesn't think the bills will have problems getting committee approval.
However, Delegate James M. Harkins, R-35A, said the bills could face a tough time winning approval when they come for a vote in theGeneral Assembly.