02/24/2005 1:00AM

Maryland slots bill moves on


The Maryland House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow 9,500 slot machines at sites in four of the state's counties, setting up a vote on the full House floor on Friday.

The outcome in the full House remains uncertain. Top Democrats said that if 35 of 43 Republicans don't commit to the plan, the bill will not pass.

Officials for Magna Entertainment Corp., the owner of Laurel Park, successfully pushed for an amendment that would require the commission awarding slots licenses to consider whether an existing industry would be helped by the location decision.

No slots would be allowed in Baltimore under the current House plan. City lawmakers, however, made sure that the area around Pimlico Race Course, also owned by Magna, would receive proceeds from the state's slot operations by diverting money from gambling to Pimlico's neighborhood, Park Heights.