Miller: Slots Changes May Be Needed, But Later
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) acknowledged in an interview today that the state might need to overhaul its slot-machine gambling law to entice more bidders into Maryland -- but that it probably doesn't make sense to do it in the upcoming 90-day legislative session.
Bids to operate Maryland's five authorized slots parlors are due to a state commission on Feb. 2, and Miller, one of the General Assembly's staunchest slots advocates, said he remains hopeful that numerous bidders will step forward.
But Miller acknowledged concerns circulating that bidders are having trouble arranging financing to build the facilities and that the share of proceeds going to operators -- no more than 33 percent -- may be too low, particularly compared to other states.
"We'll have to see who steps up," Miller said. "The economy is changing thinking on a lot of things. ... Obviously, the economy plays a part in who can get financing, and I think the splits need to be adjusted at some point in the future. ... I don't think it will be done this session."
Miller suggested that making changes in the coming session probably doesn't make sense, because it may take an improved economy to entice more bidders.
The timing of the process is also tricky. The state commission could take months to decide whether to issue licenses based on the bids it receives in February and could do so at any or all of the five authorized locations.
State legislative analysts envision slot machine parlors operating in 2011. The five sites -- in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties and Baltimore -- were authorized by voters in a November referendum.
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