Plans for slots in Baltimore dashed; jockeying continues elsewhere
The twists and turns that have come to define Maryland's nascent slot-machine program continued yesterday.
The biggest blow came from a state commission that dashed plans for the Celebration Casino in downtown Baltimore by tossing a bid for a slots license from Baltimore City Entertainment Group. The group had proposed building a 3,750-machine casino near the city sports stadiums but never coughed up the necessary licensing fees. Read more below.
Meanwhile, jockeying continues over who will put slots in Anne Arundel County. Penn National Gaming Inc. is one of six bidders vying to buy Laurel Park, where some say slots should be located. But Baltimore developer Cordish Cos. wants to put slots at Arundel Mills mall, and he's gotten the nod from the state slots commission. For that story, click here.
City slots parlor rejected
Md. panel frustrated by developer's failure to pay required fees
Maryland's slots commission rejected Thursday a bid to build a casino in downtown Baltimore, a decision that will delay much-needed revenue for the state and hamper city efforts to cut property taxes.
Commissioners said they were frustrated by the Baltimore City Entertainment Group's failure to meet deadlines or to pay millions of dollars in required fees, as well as a lack of clarity about who would control the project.
Chairman Donald C. Fry said the panel had been "more than patient" during the 10 months it weighed the Baltimore proposal, but decided not to wait longer because of "considerable doubt that additional time will produce a complete proposal."
The commission's unanimous decision marks another setback for the fledgling slots program in Maryland, which many had hoped would provide needed tax revenue amid repeated budget shortfalls. It means that two of the five casino sites approved last fall by Maryland voters are nonstarters and must be rebid, while another location at Arundel Mills mall is mired in a county zoning debate. The Anne Arundel facility is considered the biggest potential money-maker.
Mayor Sheila Dixon, who had promised that Baltimore's share of slots revenue would go directly to a property tax cut, expressed disappointment that the license was not granted.
"We did everything we were supposed to do," Dixon said. "I'm not sure if these facilities are a true priority for the state."
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