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February 7, 2011

Senators want slots operators to play nice

Irked by what they perceive as Penn National's efforts to prevent the state's largest casino from opening, two senators are seeking legislation to prevent slots license holders from "interfering" with one another.

The legislation, introduced late last week by Democratic Sens. James DeGrange of Anne Arundel County and Edward Kasemeyer of Howard and Baltimore counties, would prohibit any slots licensees from "directly or indirectly interfering with, hindering, obstructing, impeding or taking any action to delay the implementation or establishment of a video lottery facility."

DeGrange was among the lawmakers grumbling about the latest appeal to David Cordish's planned casino at Arundel Mills Mall.

With 4,750 terminals, it is expected to generate more revenue for the state than any of the other four possible sites. Penn National's slots parlor in Perryville and a slots facility at Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore have generated $38.3 million in the few months they've been open, including $10.8 million in January, The Sun's Hanah Cho reported this morning.

But Cordish, who successfully fought off a Maryland Jockey Club-funded attempt to repeal the county's zoning approval of the Arundel Mills site, faces another obstacle. Residents recently filed an appeal saying that Cordish has not provided an adequate traffic plan.

As The Sun's Nicole Fuller reported last week, the residents' attorney, Harry Blumenthal, also is a registered lobbyist for the Jockey Club. The lawyer said the Jockey Club is not involved in the latest appeal.

Penn National, in addition to owning the new casino in Perryville, has a 49 percent stake in the Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico and Laurel Park -- a struggling Anne Arundel race track. Penn also recently purchased the shuttered Rosecroft harness racing track in Prince George's County. Neither Laurel nor Rosecroft is approved as a slots location, something Penn officials have said is essential for a healthy track.

Some in the horse industry have expressed skepticism about Penn National's motives in Maryland, Hanah Cho noted in a story this weekend. Penn National owns Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, one of the best-performing "racinos" in the country and just a short drive for many Marylanders.

The DeGrange and Kasemeyer bill spells out that slots licensees may not pay for any actions that could be considered interference with another licensee. A House version of the bill has not yet been filed.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 4:21 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Slots


Its ironic that the Sun points out that this attorney has previously worked with MJC, but they never pointed out that Don Fry who gave Cordish his license also had Cordish on the Board of Directors of his Greater Baltimore Committee where Fry makes $300K per year.

This is how business is done in Baltimore!!!

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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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