The Washington Post

Md. weighing $169 million slot machines deal

The state of Maryland acquired slot machines for Hollywood Casino in Perryville. (Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)

State lottery officials are seeking approval from the Board of Public Works for the deal in advance of the planned opening in June of the Maryland Live! casino at Arundel Mills mall.

Plans call for 4,750 slot machines at the casino, which the developer, Cordish Cos., says will also include several restaurants and a live music venue.

Under Maryland law, the state — rather than private casino operators — is responsible for buying or leasing slot machines.

The lease arrangement submitted by lottery officials to the three-member board would provide 4,719 machines from eight different vendors. Another 31 machines at Maryland Live! will be relocated from other slots sites, under the lottery agency’s plan.

The arrangement is likely to be approved — but not without some pointed questions from the board.

A spokesman for Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) indicated Tuesday that he has some concerns. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) also sit on the board.

Technically, lottery officials are seeking to alter an existing contract that has been used to acquire 2,300 slot machines at two smaller casinos that have already opened, in Cecil and Worcester counties.

That “master contract” is capped at $200 million — an amount that would be exceeded with the lease of machines for Maryland Live! Lottery officials are seeking to raise the cap to $400 million.

State legislative analysts estimate that Maryland Live! will generate more than $400 million a year in gross proceeds, about half of which are earmarked for state education programs.

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



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