Maryland officials could grant approval as early as this month to a planned casino in downtown Baltimore, awarding the last of five slots licenses currently authorized by the state.
A state panel is scheduled to meet July 31 to consider the application of the sole bidder for the license, a group led by Caesars Entertainment.
The 3,750-machine casino — which would be the state’s second largest — is planned for a vacant site just south of the football stadium where the Baltimore Ravens play. Caesars has advertised a possible 2014 opening.
The panel’s deliberations come as Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and lawmakers weigh whether to hold a special legislative session on a plan to allow a sixth Maryland casino, most likely at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.
Their decision could affect the scope of a Baltimore casino. As part of any expanded gambling package, lawmakers would also likely authorize Las Vegas-style table games for all slots operators and could lower the tax rate on slots proceeds. Caesars is on board with that plan.
The award of a fifth license would be a major milestone for a state gambling program that has endured multiple setbacks since its launch by lawmakers in 2007.
Three of the five slots venues have opened— most recently Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County. Casinos previously opened in Cecil and Worcester counties. Another, in Allegany County, has been awarded a license but has not yet been built.