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.