by Ross Peddicord
The first Maryland slots license is going to be awarded during Maryland Million Week. Wouldn't that be a great item to Tweat?
|What better time to reward them for their patience and perseverance than when the Maryland racing community reconvenes at Laurel in the fall.
Why Is It Taking So Long?
It's not as though Don Fry and his Facility Location Committee have been sitting idly by the pool this summer.
The 7-member commission has made site visits to the casinos at Dover Downs and Harrah's in Chester, Pa. to get a first-hand look at the neighboring competition. Then on July 15, William Rickman's Ocean Enterprises LLC, which applied for 800 slots machines at its Ocean Downs facility, unveils more of its plans in a presentation before the Commission and the general public. The Commission next visits the Cecil County and Baltimore City sites and wraps up its last trip on September 9 for a planned visit to Arundel Mills.
"We are hoping to still make the decisions in the fall," Fry said in a recent email. "The key regarding timing of the awarding of any licenses is the speed in which the background investigations are completed. That responsibility is with the State Lottery Agency. We will make no awards until the background investigations are completed. We have asked them to move on them as quickly as possible."
Is Arundel Mills Off The Table?
As for Arundel Mills, the proposed casino site at the Mall is not a done deal either way.
On July 6, the Anne Arundel County County Council meets for yet another round of public testimony on an amendment tied in with the zoning approval process. Then on July 13, the Council meets to approve a replacement for former Council chairman Ed Reilly, who resigned to fill a vacancy in the county's State Senate delegation. It is possible that a final vote to approve or disallow zoning to build a slots casino at Arundel Mills could take place July 20, or at the very latest, August 5.
Currently two councilmen, Josh Green and James Benoit, have come out against slots; two councilmen, Ronald Dillon and Ed Middlebrooks, have indicated they are for slots although Middlebrooks has given the indication to at least some observers that he might be softening his stance; and two council members, Catherine Vitale, the acting chairman, and Daryll Jones, who represents the Arundel Mills district, are undecided. It appears likely that whoever replaces Reilly will honor his stance as a slots proponent.
"I'd say on any given day, or week, it's 60-40 odds it will pass, or 40-60 that it won't," said Dan Donovan, a retired business consultant who represents his neighborhood civic association in an effort to block the proposed casino. Neighborhood concerns are focused chiefly around increased traffic, parking and security issues.
But whatever happens at Arundel Mills, the Lottery Agency can still move forward and approve licensees in other jurisdictions, hopefully in time for the Maryland Million. Then slots operators could open temporary parlors while they build more elaborate facilities and gambling revenue could start accumulating, perhaps as soon as 2010.
So if you're listening Buddy Roogow--he's the well-respected longtime director of the State Lottery Agency--please do what you can, and try to make it happen!
© The Equiery 2010