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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.

By John Wagner  |  January 7, 2009; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Marylanders voted for slots because they believed, or were led to believe, a quick return for monies desperately needed by the state. Few realized the state won't receive a penny for a minimum of four years after opening the facilities. Now we won't even be able to lure anyone to bid to build the darn things.
Poetic justice if you ask me.

Posted by: frustrated2 | January 7, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the real issue is that no operator will consent to naming the gambling facility the "Thomas V Mike Miller Gaming Hall."

Posted by: PrinceGeorgian | January 7, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I guess MD residents need to vote the politicians they have out of office. It's clear to me they did a really bad job researching the issue and an even worse job crafting the legislation. You can't fix stupid!!!

Posted by: askgees | January 7, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Mike Miller the same guy who refused to bring the issue of slots to the floor when it was raised by Ehrlich? Poetic justice indeed!

The impact of the greed of Maryland pols is finally showing through. When they can't force someone to comply (like us citizens) with ridiculously onerous standards, the chose not to (like the casinos).

Sounds like Mr. Miller is getting an introduction into the way free markets really work. God knows that as a Maryland politician, he didn't have a clue before.

Posted by: slainte1 | January 7, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

This is exactly why I voted against slots. I knew that what the politicians were telling us was only a half truth. When the lottery was started in the State of Maryland, the money was supposed to go to the school system. Now the slot money is supposed to go to the school system. It's the excuse they use everytime they want something approved. "But it's for the schools. You have to vote FOR it." How many times will the voting public believe what they are told?

Posted by: disney1990 | January 7, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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