Miller joins O'Malley in urging county council action on slots zoning
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a huge proponent of legalizing slot machines in Maryland, joined Gov. Martin O’Malley in chiding Anne Arundel County officials for their inaction on rezoning land where a slots parlor is proposed. Miller characterized the debate on the Anne Arundel County Council as a “petty zoning war.”
“This business that’s happening in Anne Arundel County is criminal,” said Miller, known for his blunt language. “We need to remove any obstacles and roadblocks in terms of implementing slots and get that program off the ground immediately.”
The comments from O’Malley and Miller are an indication that political pressure is being brought to bear on the county council, which has tabled further discussion of the issue until the fall. O’Malley told members of the horse-racing and breeding industry Thursday that he found the situation “frustrating” and urged the council to make a decision.
But technically, ground can’t be broken on any slots facility until the state’s slots commission awards licenses, and that’s not expected to happen until this fall. The commission is reviewing bids, including one from the Cordish Cos, a Baltimore-based developer that wants to build a massive casino next to Arundel Mills mall.
Miller, in an interview, also brought up another question surrounding the slots program: What about Rocky Gap State Park?
The location was among the five authorized by a voter-approved constitutional amendment allowing slots, but a proposal to open a casino there was tossed out for failure to submit licensing fees. A competing bid in Anne Arundel County from the Laurel Park horse track also was disqualified for lack of fees.
Officials could open another round of bidding to put slots at Rocky Gap in Allegany County, and Miller suggested O’Malley might call on the slots commission to make recommendations on that site. Shaun Adamec, an O’Malley spokesman, said the governor would like to move forward with putting slots there and that the next step is still being decided.