Maryland's lottery and horse racing businesses -- competitors for the state's gambling dollars -- could end up sharing a common supplier of wagering equipment.
GTech Corp. of Providence, R.I., said yesterday that it had signed a letter of intent to purchase AmTote International Inc., the Hunt Valley-based subsidiary of General Instrument Corp., which provides and services pari-mutuel wagering systems to xTC about 100 horse and dog tracks worldwide.
AmTote has about 300 employees at its headquarters and an additional 630 workers across the country and overseas. No information was available about whether AmTote workers would be affected by the sale.
AmTote is considered by industry officials as the country's premier supplier of pari-mutuel betting equipment. Its two competitors are AutoTote and United Tote.
The purchase, which is not expected to close until next year, was GTech's initial venture in this country into the horse gambling business, though it is one of the world's largest suppliers of lottery equipment. GTech plans to conduct a review of the company's books before consummating the deal. The price was not disclosed.
GTech provides betting equipment for the Maryland Lottery. But the only full-service tote board system GTech has is at a race track in Poland. The company provides more limited services to a track in Argentina, spokesman Robert Rendine said.
AmTote, which was founded by Marylander Harry L. Strauss in 1933 and was sold to New York-based General Instrument in 1967, has operated pari-mutuel betting equipment at state tracks for over 50 years. Mr. Rendine estimated that AmTote has about 50 percent of the domestic market for its equipment.
Joe De Francis, president and chief operating officer of Laurel and Pimlico race courses, Maryland's two thoroughbred tracks, said yesterday that the AmTote acquisition "is a natural for GTech. They are committed to the wagering business. They are already a major presence in Maryland. It is a financially secure corporation. I think it's a positive thing for horse racing."
Mr. De Francis said that GTech co-chairman Guy Snowden owns a stable of horses headquartered at the Maryland tracks.