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October 20, 2010

Poll: Arundel voters evenly split on slots at the mall

Pollster Patrick Gonzales released numbers Wednesday morning showing that a slim majority of Anne Arundel County voters favor installing a slots emporium at the Arundel Mills Mall, but the margin is within the sampling error.

The questionnaire found voters want the 4,750-machine casino at the mall by 48 to 45. Eight percent are undecided. (The error margin is +/-3.5 percent.) The casino would be the state's largest and residents, supported by a group that wants to build a casino at the Laurel racetrack, want to stop the project by killing a zoning measure the County Council passed.

The question will only appear on Anne Arundel ballots, but the issue has the feel of a state-wide race because both sides have poured millions into television advertising seen well beyond the county boarders.

The ballot question is extremely difficult to pick through (but is worth reading just for the sake of amusement - or horror depending on one's mindset). It essentially asks if voters are "for" or "against" the zoning plan.

Voting "for" supports the zoning and allows billionaire developer David Cordish to begin constructing a gambling site at the mall. Sun colleague Nicole Fuller reported recently that Cordish, 70, has taken to door-knocking to persuade voters that the casino is a good idea. (Meanwhile, the developer is potentially losing a contract for his gaming venue in Indiana.)

Voting "against" puts the process back to square one and the newly elected council would need to pass a new zoning bill. (Which could, again, trigger a referendum.)

The issue does not break neatly along party lines like most of the other major questions in the poll, though Republicans tend to dislike putting gambling in the mall (51 percent against; 44 percent for) and Democrats tend to want gambling at the mall (56 percent for; 37 percent against.) Unaffiliated voters broke 39 percent for and 54 percent against.)

Still the voter affiliation is somewhat interesting because it appears that the gubernatorial candidates have each staked out views unsupported by the majorities within their respective parties.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, wants the slots question to go down. Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., brought in Cordish in as a client to his former firm worked to support slots at the mall.

Gonzales wrote in his analysis that, even though a slight majority supports slot at the mall, the Cordish team should still focus on "flipping" some of the Republicans and Independents.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:05 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Slots


Sugar-coat it all you want, the fact is: normally civic-minded Cops(FOP) and Teachers(TAAAC) are 1)actively promoting a vice, 2) hoping people Lose at a rigged game and Lose Big so that 3)the money can be transferred to them. No scruples. Never underestimate the power of greed and ignorance.

It would be a huge mistake if Anne Arundel county residents vote down this proposal. From reading about what this place will be like, it would be a huge wasted opportunity. Laurel had to chance to bid and failed. Its time to move on and not stall.

It would be a shame if the voters were bamboozled by this sleazy developer and the special interests that are backing Question A. Then again, voters outside of the area around the mall probably don't care if the quality of life of those near the mall deteriotes.

If it wasn't for the Democrats, and mainly Michael Busch, slots would have been up and running in Maryland YEARS AGO!!!!!

The Hanover NIMBY anti-slots ads (funded by the bankrupt MD Jockey Club & competing casino owner Penn National!) are full of misinformation and outright lies. A vote against this question GUARANTEES there will be NO slots or slots revenue for Anne Arundel County for the foreseeable future.
The loud but small group of whiny mall neighbors of the largest mall in the state should be seen for who they truly are - puppets of the bankrupt Laurel Park Raceway.

MOM should be held accountable for slots not passing in AA County. How is it possible that he can pass Legislature and then blame Ehrlich for this mess. MOM never takes any responsibility for anything!

I will vote for it because of the NIMB Y phonies who lives in new developments from former forests torn down.

I don't live in AAC, so send those 4,700+ slots to join Baltimore City's 3,700+ slots, than everyone should be happy, especially the people of Indiana.

it would be a big mistake locating it around the mall.parking and traffic would be a pain in the butt.I don't live in AA county but if I did I'd vote against it.I know if they wanted to put it in Annapolis the Crap would hit the fan.AA county is large enough that the casino could be built elsewhere.How about around Mike Miller or Mike Busch's neighborhood.See how that works out

Has anyone seriously considered what might happen if slots were not at the mall? Lessee...

1. Cordish or some other developer buys the rights to put an A-class slots parlor in Baltimore. That would pretty much kill any successful slots venture at Laurel racetrack. AA taxpayers lose out, Baltimore taxpayers win!

2. A smaller less lucrative slots parlor opens at Laurel racetrack or some other Anne Arundel location. Laurel NIMBYs, of course, fight this every step of the way. They also fight the businesses, hotels and restaurants trying to move in due to the usual crime/traffic concerns.

3. Slots come to Laurel or some other Anne Arundel location and overcome their NIMBYs and succeed in becoming a statewide tourist destination. New restaurants open up, hotels, shops etc. If the location is relatively close to Arundel Mills, the mall begins to suffer. Much like Glen Burnie Mall did when Arundel Mills opened.

One argument that is always being made is the increase in crime if slots are at the mall. So, will crime increase with slots at the mall? Probably. Statistically, crime increases after any new development whether it be housing, retail, offices or slots.

Another argument being made is the increase in traffic. The NIMBYs in particular remind of this issue but they are PART OF THE PROBLEM! Most of the NIMBYs moved there after the mall opened. How hypocritical can you get?

Really, if we were all that paranoid about traffic/crime then we would all be inconveniently living and shopping in the suburbs as there would be no central location to go to (i.e. city).

Incidentally, has anyone looked at the common demographic of those that pay slots? They are your parents (assuming you are under 40). For them they treat it as a form of entertainment. My parents lived in Las Vegas and once a week that is what they would do (and I when I went to visit them). Last time I checked, gangs don't recruit AARP members.

Being that I live in Howard Co. I, unfortunately, have no say in this outcome. I just think that the people that can vote on this decision need to come to the realization that nobody can predict what will eventually happen if slots do not come to the mall. By voting against Question A, you are in essence pulling the slots handle and hoping that the eventual reward will be better than what you currently have in front of you. But there is no guarantee that Laurel will ever be in the running, and if it is, will it be as lucrative as the mall? And if it is, what risk will that pose to retail businesses currently at the mall?

I say YES! YES! A thousand times YES! Lighten up folks, it's not kiddy porn! Keep MD money in MD....& take a few shekels from the surrounding states who have been taking ours for so long!

The entire slots implementation across the state has been a complete fiasco under MOM's leadership. Of course I bet the same would have happened under anyone else. State employees are totally incompentent. Fire the slouches solves the budget deficit. And yes, Laurel race track missed the boat so why is this referendum even necessary? Cordish met the requirements for application in AAC. Noone else did. That is called "The victor"...

Nice post Kenny66

Arundel Mills has deteriorated over the last few years, and most residents would like to see it updated. I don't find this maryland developer sleazy at all. I do find the anti-slots people sleazy, in that they tried to hide the fact they were being backed by an outside company, who's only interest is to protect their money at the Hollywood Casinos. The entertainment facility they are proposing to build is beautiful! I hope people are taking the time to read up on this issue before jumping to any hair brained conclusions!

My favorite part of this is that many of the people complaining chose to buy McMansions built on streets that connect to Arundel Mills Blvd at intersections that the builder couldn't be bothered to install traffic lights at. It's not the fault of the rest of AA county that these people chose to buy from a builder who skimped on costs, built houses right on top of each other, put in paper-thin walls, did not provide sufficient parking, tore down a forest to build cookie-cutter homes, and set up a ridiculously expensive HOA scheme.

I'm a Democrat and I'm voting for it because the revenue will help fund the public school system. Plus- I'd rather have slots go in at Arundel Mills, in an area that is already appropriately designed for big businesses and venues than other places in the county.

Call me a cynic, but I'd be willing to bet that Cordish promised to sweeten the pot for the unions of the Cops/Firefighters and Teachers in exchange for their support. Too bad for us.

In 2008, 56% of the voters in the precincts surrounding Arundel Mills voted for slots. Now they claim to be against them. The only difference is they believed it was supposed to go to Laurel Park, and now it's at the mall. NIMBYism, pure and simple.

I'm for the slots at Arundel Mills. It will definitely generate tons of money. Just like everything else, everyone will not agree to support every project. Think about the purpose and benefits.

Once again, the article says "in the mall". It's NOT IN THE MALL. It's not like you will be walking and pass Children's Place, Foot Locker, and then a Casino. It's NOT IN THE MALL...

I see lots of reference to bringing crime to the area. If know anything about casinos, you will know they are famous for having some of the best security in the world. Casinos know how to do security. That will include inside the casino and in the parking lot. My guess is that the overall security and crime rate in the mall will improve.

AA needs this. They need the 4,000 jobs, the additional taxes and so on that will come with it. This will be a class act place with top of the line restaurants and music venue.

Everyone says there will be lots of jobs coming up if the slots are build isnt there anything else that would increase the revenue and jobs like kids amusement parks or having more store like big ones JCpenney, Macys, Nordstorm etc. why build casino in that area????

I heard Johnny Rockets in the mall was replacing the juke boxes at each table with nickel slots. I also heard they were going to leave some nickels on each table to try to get children hooked on gambling. Is this true? Will we be able to keep any money we win? If so, I'm voting for queestion "A".

It would be a huge mistake to pass this at that location.

Sure it sounds like a nice entertainment facility and lots of money. But even though it will be a few feet away from the mall it is STILL IN THE MALL PARKING LOT. And traffic and congestion around there is already absolutely ridiculus. Think about your neighbors and fellow Anne Arundel Co. citizens who have to deal with it every day and decide if you would want that in your back yard?? NO, it needs to be in it's own restricted area away from an already over crowded area.

So lets see, the latest round of ads against Question A say that the slots building will be attached to the mall and that Cordish's slots casino in Indiana or Illinois (sorry I can't remember the correct location) is failing.
In earlier ads those against slots at the mall said the building would be only 30 feet from the Mall, guess it has been relocated or they are just making up as they go along and can't remember the lie they told before. Also Cordish's other casino is the highest earner of the two at race tracks in the other state and is bringing in enormous amounts of money for the state. It is actually the track owner that is losing money and they are trying to get out of the contract they agreed to with Cordish to manage the casino.
As far as traffic, yes it is bad in that area, but it is not going to be significantly worse when the casino opens. It's not like everyone is going to go to the casino at the same time each day like they are going to their job. The amount of cars going to the casino will be spread out over the course of the day.

Cordish is a failed casino manager who ran Indiana Live into the ground. It lost $50 million last year. It asked for a taxpayer bailout. When he speaks about maryland slots he always mentions it is the highes tax rate in the state, and then says "but I am not complaining." We will see little positive revenue from a casino at Arundel mills. However, thousands of acres of horse farmland will be lost when Laurel Park becomes a residential subdivision and Preakness is one of a dozen races in the state.

Wasn't saving races why we voted for slots in 2008?

Um, what?

"Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., brought in Cordish in as a client to his former firm worked to support slots at the mall."

No he didn't. That was already proven that Ehrlich had no connection to Cordish or the decision.

O'Malley, however, was given 16,000 dollars by Penn National and one of his former main advisers is now Penn National's head lobbyist.

Oh gesh, it is nice to see Laurel has its employees trolling the Baltimore Sun blogs:

"It would be a shame if the voters were bamboozled by this sleazy developer and the special interests that are backing Question A."

Sleazy? Cordish is one of the best Baltimore developers, unlike Penn National who is a well-known sleeze mongerer or the bankrupt Magna Entertainment from Canada.

No real Marylander, let alone someone from Anne Arundel County, would make such nasty attacks like that.

Laurel Park and Penn National actively encourage little children to have birthday parties at their tracks. Their hypocrisy and lies about this is disgusting. They have a very long track record of tricking little kids into gambling then send their goons to smear respectable, honest businessmen.

I hope Penn National goes bankrupt and you people lose your jobs. It would teach you to meddle with Maryland politics and insult our people like that.

"Cordish is a failed casino manager who ran Indiana Live into the ground. It lost $50 million last year. "

What lies.

The Baltimore Sun already proved that he above was 100% fake. Indianapolis Live makes more money than the average casino does. Nothing the Canadian Magna Entertainment or its goons from Penn National on the matter has come even close to the truth.

It shows that you guys are desperate.

Wasn't saving races why we voted for slots in 2008?"

At Arundel Mills, horse racing would get 50 million per year for its purses. At Laurel, it would get about 4 million. Sure doesn't seem like it would save horse racing there, especially when Laurel already stated it would destroy the park, turn it into a mall, and sell it once they got a casino there!

If you think the Laurel People aren't playing dirty, see this:

The bankrupt Magna and Penn National have dumped tens of millions of dollars, donated a lot to politicians, and hire goons to go around destroying anything they can. When will they be sent to jail?

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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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