Slots: Now it's about to get interesting
Boy, you've got to feel sorry for Don Fry right about now.
He's got two bids for slots licenses that failed to include the fee required by law. One of them is saying its bid is contingent on changes in the state's tax structure for slots, and the other one -- from the politically-connected-up-the-wazoo Magna Entertainment Corp. -- is saying it didn't pony up the cash because it wasn't sure what would happen to the money if the site fails to get zoning approval but still expects its proposal to be considered. The other bidder for the Anne Arundel license Magna wants, The Cordish Cos., is apoplectic about the notion that Magna's bid wouldn't be tossed out right away.
That leaves Fry, the chairman of the slots licensing commission, in the middle of some extremely powerful business and political figures who are poised to raise hell almost no matter what he does. If he tosses out the Magna bid, he could face the wrath of Senate President Mike Miller, a huge supporter of horse racing (and a huge recipient of campaign contributions from the industry) and possibly Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has always expressed a preference for slots at tracks.
But Cordish is a major casino developer and is certain to push hard for its proposal. It's easy to imagine lawsuits in the offing no matter what the slots commission does. The same sort of thing (and worse) happened when Pennsylvania legalized slots, delaying a gambling expansion there for years. Cash strapped Maryland can't afford to see that happen.