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Maryland Politics
Posted at 04:58 PM ET, 05/05/2011

Anne Arundel casino delay to cost state millions

Editors Note: This post has been updated to reflect the loss of revenue as estimated by the Department of Legislative Services. That amount is higher than the earlier reported estimate, which had been provided by the governor’s office.

The developers of Maryland’s largest planned slots casino have announced a delay in plans to open a temporary facility at the Arundel Mills mall by the end of the year.

Cordish Cos. has told the state’s Lottery Commission that it will instead open the first phase of a permanent casino with 2,750 slot machines, restaurants and bars in June 2012.

The state was anticipating an estimated $86 million in revenue from the project intended to benefit state education programs, according to the Department of Legislative Services.

“The governor said today that he’s extremely disappointed that Cordish and the developers would break their commitment to opening a temporary facility early,” Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), said Thursday.

“He’s not sure why they’ve gone back on their commitment, but we’ll work with them to move as quickly as possible,” Abbruzzese said.

In response to comments from the administration Thursday, Megan Slattery, a spokeswoman for Cordish, said the company and the state have the same fiscal interests.

“Nobody can argue with a straight face that we haven’t done everything humanly possible to expedite this project,” she said. “We are delighted the administration is now willing to play an active role in . . . helping expedite our opening.”

In a statement this week, the company attributed the delay in construction to slowdowns in the building permit process that “made opening in 2011 impractical.” Instead, the company has sped up its overall timeline for a permanent facility, scheduled to open in fall 2012 and feature 4,750 machines.

Because of the delay, first reported by the Baltimore Sun, Abbruzzese said the state would have to figure out how to plug the sizable gap in school funding.

“It definitely has an impact on the state — and the local budget in Anne Arundel County,” he said.

The Anne Arundel facility is expected to be the third slots casino to open in the state since Maryland voters approved five in a 2008 referendum.

By  |  04:58 PM ET, 05/05/2011

 
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