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Slots advocates build cash lead

The Baltimore Sun

With less than two weeks to the election, pro-slots forces have extended their financial dominance over gambling foes, thanks largely to a $500,000 donation from a national union representing about 50,000 state and municipal workers.

But chief "no" voices on a Nov. 4 referendum on slot-machine gambling in Maryland also raised about $160,000 during the latest reporting period of Oct. 6 through Oct. 19, according to campaign finance documents released yesterday.

The pro-slots ballot committee, For Maryland For Our Future, raised about $611,000 during the two-week period and reported having about $660,000 on hand in its bank account. The main anti-slots group, Marylanders United to Stop Slots, said it had about $225,000 in the bank.

The pro-slots donation from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees came from the union's national treasury, said state director Patrick Moran. He said the union hoped gambling revenues would help protect state workers during the economic slowdown.

An entity controlled by Worcester racetrack owner William M. Rickman Jr., gave the pro-slots group $25,000 for this reporting period, bringing its total contribution to $50,000. The track could be the host of a slots parlor. Three women, identified as his sisters in a Montgomery County Gazette obituary of Rickman's father, each gave $25,000.

Yesterday's filings were the last before the election, in which voters will decide whether to amend the Maryland Constitution to establish up to 15,000 slot machines around the state.

Finance documents released early this month showed that slots supporters out-raised opponents 9-1, including $2 million from the Maryland Jockey Club, which runs Laurel Park.

"Annapolis insiders and the pro-slots lobby may be well-funded, but their campaign is based in misinformation and an attempt to make this election about something other than slots and gambling," said Scott Arceneaux, an adviser to Marylanders United to Stop Slots.

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