Earlier in the day, a state panel signed off on a ground lease and other provisions needed for construction of a casino at Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Western Maryland.
The ailing, state-financed lodge was identified in 2007 by lawmakers as a desired slots location but was slow to attract bidders to build an adjacent casino. Because the site sits on state property, the Board of Public Works had to sign off on the arrangement for Evitts Resort to move forward with plans for a casino that eventually will have 1,000 slot machines.
Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), an outspoken gambling opponent, joined the other two members of the board, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D), in supporting the plan.
Franchot said he was willing to do whatever necessary to get a debt-ridden “white elephant” off the state’s hands. But he also used the occasion to blast the consideration of a special session on expanded gambling, calling it “the worst conceivable misplacement of priorities” he has seen during his 20 years in elected office.
The gambling debate, Franchot said, needs to be put “back on the toy shelf where it belongs.”