05/28/2008 11:00PM

Magna names Maryland chief

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Tom Chuckas, the former chief executive officer of Rosecroft Raceway, has been named the president and chief operating officer of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, the owner of the tracks, Magna Entertainment Corp., announced on Thursday.

Chuckas, who was most recently a special consultant to Magna, will replace Chris Dragone, who was hired by Magna late last year to replace Lou Raffetto, a highly respected racetrack executive. Chuckas will move into the post as of June 1.

Chuckas "has solid relationships with the horsemen," Scott Borgemenke, the executive vice president for racing at Magna, said in a statement, "and knows all the major players in Annapolis."

Later this year, Maryland voters will be asked in a referendum whether to legalize as many as 15,000 slot machines at five locations in the state. Although the referendum does not specify sites for the casinos, it is widely considered that one of the locations will be at Laurel Park.

The referendum does not contain language detailing how revenues from the slot machines would be distributed, and would leave the splits up to the legislature. It is anticipated that an array of interest groups will lobby for portions of the revenues, including tracks and horsemen.