Jockey Club says it can stop Arundel Mills casino
A coalition that includes the Maryland Jockey Club says it has submitted more than enough signatures to send a recent county zoning decision allowing a slot-machine emporium at Arundel Mills Mall to referendum -- meaning that voters might be able to reject it.
The Jockey Club, which partnered with resident activist groups to collect the necessary 18,790 signatures, says it has nearly 24,000. Tomorrow is the due date for at least half the signatures.
Those signatures must be verified by the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections before the zoning measure can be placed on the November ballot.
"Without question, there is overwhelming opposition by Anne Arundel County citizens to placing a casino at Arundel Mills Mall," Rob Annicelli, President of the citizens group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills, said in a Jockey Club news release. "The mall is not the right location for a slots casino and is not in the best interests of the citizens of Anne Arundel County. I would like to thank the volunteers and ask them to continue to collect signatures until the Board of Elections certifies the petition question."
The Jockey Club has been active in trying to stop a 4,750-machine facility planned by Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. Along with the bankrupt Magna Entertainment, the club bid on the sole Anne Arundel license, but the application was tossed from the competition because they failed to submit all of the necessary fees.
Horse racing officials have warned putting a casino at the mall would spell financial ruin for Laurel Park race track, which they say needs slot machines to stay viable. Presenting the track as marketable is of critical importance: It is up for sale. The auction has been delayed several times, and it's unclear this afternoon what further effect the petition could have.
David Cordish has already started the permitting process for building on a parking lot near the Arundel Mills food court. He has said that he expects the signature drive to fail.
Developing story. See Nicole Fuller's coverage in tomorrow's Baltimore Sun for more details.