O'Malley Chides Anne Arundel Council for Slots Delay
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) today prodded -- and not so gently -- the Anne Arundel County Council to act on zoning legislation required to allow the largest slot-machine gambling facililty envisioned by the state to operate.
"I wish the Anne Arundel County Council would make a decision," O'Malley said during an appearance before a statewide gathering of horse industry leaders. "Tell them to stop postponing and make a decision. It's holding the rest of us up from moving forward."
The governor said essentially the same thing several more times while addressing a meeting of the Maryland Horse Forum in Upper Marlboro -- and then a couple of times more while taking questions from reporters afterward.
A provision added to the 2007 slots bill passed by the General Assembly gave local leaders a say over where facilities can be located through the use of their zoning power. The battle has been most tumultous in Anne Arundel, one of five jurisdictions where sites are authorized.
Zoning legislation introduced by County Executive John R. Leopold (R) was pulled last month after multiple delays by the council. Leopold has now sent another bill to the council, but it remains unclear when debate will resume.
The only pending bid for the Anne Arundel slots license calls for putting 4,750 machines at Arundel Mills Mall, an idea that has sparked opposition from some in the surrounding community. O'Malley today restated his preference for putting slots at racetracks but said the zoning decision rests with the council.
"I just want a decision," he told reporters.
A state commission is reviewing bids in Anne Arundel and other jurisdictions and has said it will make decisions about licenses in the fall.
The horse industry leaders have a keen interest in the issue, regardless of whether slot machines are located at tracks. A percentage of the revenue of all machines is to be set aside to subsidize the industry.
August 6, 2009; 4:07 PM ET
Categories: John Wagner
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