The Washington Post

Arundel slots on track for June 2012, developer says

(Photo by Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)

The venue has been dealt a number of setbacks since Cordish Cos. first put in a bid in 2009 to construct a 4,750-machine facility in the parking lot across from the food court of the outlet mall in Anne Arundel County.

Cordish previously told state officials it planned to open in a smaller, temporary configuration in November. But those plans were publicly scrapped several weeks ago after construction was halted by appeals of some of the developer’s county permits.

On Monday, Joe Weinberg, president of Cordish’s gaming division, told the state panel that picks slots locations, that those issues have been resolved. The company’s new plan is to forge ahead with building the permanent casino and open about three-fifths of it in a year, Weinberg said.

At that point, he said, about 3,000 machines will be available -- double the size of the state’s largest operating casino now, located in Perryville. The rest of Maryland Live! should be completed no later than October 2012, Weinberg said.

Donald C. Fry, chairman of the panel, thanked Weinberg for his presentation and asked that the company keep the panel informed of any future “surprises.”

The decision to push the casino opening back into next year will cost the state about $87 million in expected proceeds earmarked for this fiscal year, according to legislative analysts.

On Monday, Fry’s panel also decided to try for a third time to solicit bidders to operate a planned casino at Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Western Maryland. The legislature took several steps to sweeten the offer earlier this year, including temporarily increasing the share of proceeds an operator would be allowed to maintain.

The panel also made several tweaks to an ongoing second solicitation for bidders to build and operate what would be Maryland’s second largest slots casino, in downtown Baltimore.

To date, only two of five sites authorized by voters in 2008 are operational: the Hollywood Casino in Perryville and the Casino at Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore.

Meanwhile, state leaders have started discussing whether Maryland should allow Las Vegas-style table games at its slots venues, a move already taken by West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.


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