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January 4, 2010

Anti-Arundel slots signature drive begins

The race is on to stop a planned slots emporium at Arundel Mills Mall.

Rob Annicelli, head of an anti-slots coalition in the area, reports today that the county Board of Elections and attorneys have certified a peititon to send a zoning decision allowing the casino to referendum this fall. If 19,000 county residents sign the petition, voters will be able to choose whether to reject the casino site.

The Anne Arundel County Council, after months of debate and delays, approved the zoning Dec. 21.

But the clock is ticking. Slots opponents have little more than a month to collect at least half of the signatures. Annicelli says that if they can meet that goal by Feb. 5, they get another 30 days in which to reach 19,000.

There's another horse in this race.

Assisting the anti-slots residents is the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park racetrack in Anne Arundel County. Magna, the track's owner, unsuccessfully bid for the county's sole slots facility license but was rejected because it didn't pay the required state fees. (The Canadian company is bankrupt and is auctioning Laurel Park and Pimlico racetrack later this week.) Magna has also filed a protest of the state's decision to reject its bid.

Horse racing officials have warned putting a casino at the mall would spell financial ruin for the racetrack, which they say needs slot machines to stay viable.

Annicelli says the residents are mobilized near the mall and the Jockey Club could assist with signatures of southern Anne Arundel residents who are involved in the horse racing industry.

He says the opponents should have a feel for how they're doing late next week and will likely hold signature-gathering events in addition to going door-to-door.

Meanwhile, developer David Cordish, whose Baltimore-based company plans to erect a 4,750-machine slots facility on a parking lot near the food court at Arundel Mills Mall, has already gotten to work. He says he does not anticipate the anti-slots group will succeed in its signature drive and has made initial filings for building permits. The emporium is to be called Maryland Live!, and Cordish says he thinks it could open by late 2011.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:42 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Slots


A total waste of time and energy. It's their time and energy to waste but I would submit the time would be better spent teaching their kids about the ravages of drugs, alcohol and gambling.

Cordish is getting a little cockey thinking his plan for slots is a slam dunk. Slots should be at the racetrack, not the mall. Where do I sign this petition?

Why don't they just do it or forget it... So many years now the revenue has went to Dover and Charleston...Is it ethics that holds Maryland back ?

MD gov't has flaunted how well raising cigarette taxes has done on curbing smoking and contributing to state health care plan but in all reality many just buy them in Virginia for about 1/3 less costs.
I guess so MD is the 4th highest state on cig taxes last time I checked.

MD gov't flaunted how it raised taxes on the states top earners..what happened to the ones that moved because of it: now MD collects zero from them, absolutely brilliant.

One must wonder where Maryland is headed. Are we going to be the next California or Detroit.

I'm in Baltimore County and I wish I could sign this petition. Slots should never have been on referendum in the first place.

The locations were supposedly written into the referendum when it went to the polls. What does that mean? It means people across the entire state had the opportunity to vote slots into those locations. If you are a resident of one of those locations, you're screwed. This is one of the few ways you can counter it. If you just bought a house in one of those locations, you would be pulling your hair out. Imagine how much it will devalue when a casino is located next door!

This is just another stall by the NIMBY's and the people who want to buy Laurel racetrack. Don't sign the petition unless you want to line the pockets of those who messed up the horse racing industry to begin with. Talk about total chutzpah! Cordish will build a high-class operation, similar to the one I visited in south Forida. If anything, it will improve the dismal crime statistics that are now coming from Arundel Mills.

It makes more sense to put slots at racetracks. This will help an already established business(horseracing)to survive and possibly thrive.It will keep all the gambling in one location, which the anti-gambling crowd would prefer. It's a no-brainer.

As Maryland's leading breeder in 2009, I would like everyone to know that slots DO NOT have to be at Laurel for racing to survive. The one thing we DO need,[in addition to the other residents of the state], is for the slots to be up and running as soon as possible. It is unconscionable that a few thousand residents of one county can hold up the arrival of slots for another year or two. Please do NOT sign the petition if you think you are helping the horse will be helping to finish it off instead by the delay!

@ Jeff Davis---can you let me know exactly where in the mall they propose to install these slots?

I voted against slots because of the almost certain spike in crime but I certainly hope slots do not land in Laurel. I'm glad that I don't live near Arundel Mall. I would get bars put on my windows if I did once the casino opened.

Everyone is all for it until slots are being slated for YOUR back yard...Arundel Mills already has too much traffic, too many parking lots assaults and an Army installion less than 2miles up the up th road, with soldiers that could return with PTSD! Is that how we want to represent ourselves! Where do I sign the petition!

slots are just a tax on stupid people

why not let them give their $$ away

The referedum won't withstand a court challange, don't you all remember Camdem Yards.


Where do I sign? If we are to have slots at all, they belong at the track (where gambling is already an accepted norm), not at a mall. Successful casino venues in WV, Penn, and Del all are colocated with horse racing tracks. Who's kidding who that we need a mall to attract gamblers. Thumbs down to those who say we do. Please align with the county residents who will be impacted by this ridiculous venture and sign the petition.

I remember when Mr. Leopold walked thru my neighbor hood 6 years ago. I still have his red and white refrigerator magnet that he left. Whatever tax plus that this will bring will be used on having increased police presence. I do not go to AA Mills Outlet after dark.

Remember when slots were sold to us as a way to save racing in Maryland? I didn't buy it then and am not surprised that the developers will put slots wherever people are, e.g. malls. Sign the petition and fight.

Cordish Co. What a master plan!! Get zoning approval for another site which lowers the value of the Laurel racetrack then buy the racetrack and build the slot facility in Laurel. Everyone is happy..Cordish saves tens of millions.

9,000 -10,000 Jobs PLUS nearly 1/2 BILLION dollars yearly for Maryland are at stake here folks.


Save Laurel Park, Pimlico, Bowie !!!

Save our Farms!

Save Maryland HISTORY!

Laurel Park is and was always ready to house slots with ample parking and an established venue.

Arundel Mills Mall is and has always been a nightmare to park just to see a movie or shop. Growing these existing problems more out of control with a casino is a very scary thought.

Slots warehouse, along with restaurant, a theater and many other amenities are proposed by Cordish to be built in the already congested parking lot (Yes! that's right, the food court parking lot right by Children's place - quite the combo). They also plan to build a parking garage (which by the faulty legislation passed is not required to be even big enough for the casino proposed not to mention staff, other amenities and the parking taken away from an already limited parking space). More details on the petition are on our website at Come by the site and e-mail us if you are interested in signing petition or collecting signatures. Thanks.

I can not wait to see how much money Cordish had to give Leopold in campaign contributions to 'buy' the zoning change. After 20 years of slots opposition this clown said that slots were a great way to make money! I am sure he is right, and he will have $$$ in his accounts to prove it.

wrere do i sign the petition. everyone i have talk to assumed that slots would be at laurel race track. what a stupid place to put a casino,at a mall.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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