The possible legalization of off-track betting in Maryland this year has become endangered by developments involving beleagured harness track owner Mark Vogel, according to lawmakers.

Those comments preceded a scheduled meeting in Timonium today at which the Maryland Racing Commission is to consider the renewal of a track operating license for Vogel, the sole owner of the Rosecroft Trotting and Racing Association. Rosecroft Raceway, in Oxon Hill, is scheduled to begin its 1991 meeting Friday night and to simulcast its races to Delmarva Downs, the state's only other harness track, near Ocean City.

One state racing official yesterday said the commission is not likely to take action that would imperil Rosecroft's ability to conduct racing Friday and beyond.

Jim Murphy, president and general manager of both tracks, said Rosecroft will open as promised even after First National Bank of Maryland seized the track's general operating account in initiating foreclosure proceedings against Vogel for default of a $10.9 million loan. The track plans to open an account at another bank, Murphy said, and it should draw enough from the betting handle this weekend to replenish the account by more than $400,000. Funds from the operating account are used, in part, to pay suppliers and track employees.

Racing secretary Billy Perkins said he struggled somewhat to gather enough horses for the opening-night program but secured enough entries to fill 11 races; the track had planned 12. "I don't think the publicity . . . has helped one bit," Perkins said.

Vogel's guilty plea to a drug possession charge, his mounting debt as a real estate developer and recent admissions of occasional cocaine use over a 14-year period have far-reaching implications and now threaten the advancement of off-track betting. Thoroughbred and standardbred track executives have agreed in principal to an OTB proposal for 1991, but for now, the prospects seem bleak.

"While the situation remains unclear in terms of track ownership, I can't envision the General Assembly moving forward with OTB at this time," Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller (D-Prince George's) said. "It's a controversial proposal even under the most ideal circumstances."

Allan Levey, a racing commission member who helped craft OTB guidelines largely approved by a legislative subcommittee last fall, said, "Until this situation is resolved with Mark Vogel, we won't see anything happen" with OTB.

Even Murphy said, "One disconcerting thing is that the industry is ready to go forward with OTB; you'd hate to see any of this deter that in any way. We've got to have this thing resolved fairly soon if we're going to move forward."

Laurel and Pimlico, Maryland's principal thoroughbred tracks, could emerge as innocent victims if the OTB thrust is derailed because of Vogel. "It's truly unfortunate that the problems Vogel might have, the standardbred industry might have and Rosecroft might have could serve as an impediment to something in the thoroughbred industry {OTB} that is vital to our long-term benefit and success," said Joe De Francis, president and chief executive officer of Laurel and Pimlico.

According to Miller, legislators also view Maryland's relatively small geographical size as a disadvantage. He questioned whether OTB facilities could be located where they would be well-attended while not diminishing on-track betting.Special correspondent Jack Nowakowski contributed to this report.