10/26/2007 12:00AM

Laurel cancels for slots rally

EmailLaurel Park has canceled its live racecard next Friday, citing a planned rally that morning in front of the Maryland state capitol in advance of hearings to discuss the possibility of legalizing slot machines at the state's racetracks.

Laurel, which will provide buses to the capitol building in Annapolis for its employees and trainers based at the track and Bowie Training Center, said that the rally will begin at 9 a.m. The state legislature's hearings on slot machines are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

Laurel said it would make up the canceled card with a live card on Jan. 2, a Wednesday. Laurel had not planned to race on that day.

Two weeks ago, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called a special session of the legislature in order to address a projected $1.7 billion budget shortfall. O'Malley favors the legalization of slot machines, although members of the state's house of delegates have opposed expanded-gambling legislation in the past.

One of the ideas under consideration is a public referendum on legalizing slot machines. Under that proposal, a majority of voters would have to approve the legalization of slot machines, and then local counties would be asked to vote on whether slots could be located in their communities.