Laurel Racing Urges Maryland Officials to Re-Start the Slots Gaming Bidding Process

Laurel Racing Association Incorporated is urging state officials to start again in their search for gambling parlor developers, alleging that the state commission handling the process has change the rules to benefit a select a number of casino developers.

The organization, whose bid to construct a slots parlor at Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County was dismissed earlier this year, states that the commission in charge of giving out slot machine licenses is encouraging certain gaming developers to up their bid by seeking more licenses than they first sought.

Scott A. Livingston, a lawyer representing Laurel Racing stated in a letter to the state Video Lottery Facility Location Commission on August 21st, 2009 said that it is very unfair and improper to change the rules in the middle if the process. Livingston said that it is not in the state's best interest to limit the competition when it is seeking the biggest favorable return to the state from the slots bidding process.

Livingston stated that the state could have attracted more slots bidders and better proposals if all interested casino developers are informed about those changes when they applied for slots licenses in early February 2009. State officials stated that they are very disappointed when gaming developers just submitted 6 proposals to develop slot machines facilities in Maryland, promising 10,550 slot machines at 5 locations in the state. That is less than the 15,000 slot machines approved by a voter referendum in November 2008 allowing slot machine gaming in the state.

The group appealed that decision before the Maryland Court of Appeals, which dismissed the appeal in a July 20th, 2009 decision. Livingston claims in his letter that it is unfair that Laurel Racing could not submit another bid when other slots developers have been permitted.

Livingston, an attorney with Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan and Silver LLC of Annapolis, stated in his letter to recent changes in Baltimore City and Perryville in Cecil County. Laurel Racing's slots bid at Laurel Park was dismissed by the state slots commission because the group did not include the millions of dollars in licensing costs required to bid slots gaming licenses in Anne Arundel County.

Donald C. Fry, the head of the state slots commission and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Baltimore Committee, stated that Laurel Racing's bid was dismissed because it did not fulfill the needed requirements set by the state, specifically the $28.5 million in licensing costs and financing for its slots facility proposal.

He stated that his commission has the power to negotiate with those slots developers who have submitted acceptable big, including changing the location and the overall number of machines. But Fry said that he plans to gather more information about some of the specific slots proposal including one in Baltimore City. His commission is schedule to study that plan at a public meeting in August 26th, 2009.

In the city, the organization that wants to construct a slots facility has reached an agreement to move its project to a bigger location seen as off-limits during the slots bidding process. Baltimore City Entertainment Group has reached an agreement to move its slots facility to an 11-acre property on Russell Boulevard south of MandT Bank Stadium known as Gateway South.

Livingston said in his letter that the location was not one of the 3 locations named by the state and city officials in looking for potential slots developers. Baltimore City Entertainment has not officially applied to relocate its plans from a smaller location at Warner and Stockholme streets but officials with development group have stated that they are planning to do so. They have also stated that they plan to apply for more than five hundred slots machine licenses they have requested but have not petitioned the slots commission for those additional slots machines yet.

Aside from that, in Perryville, the slots commission is urging Penn National to petition for more than just the five hundred slot machines requested in its application. At a public meeting on August 13th, 2009, commission members suggested that they might not passed Penn National's application if the group does not seek the additional slot machine licenses or put up an additional $6 million for those slots licenses.