O'Malley: "Fine" either way on Arundel Mills zoning
When given a chance, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley hardly offered a ringing endorsement Wednesday night of a stalled plan to put slot machines at Arundel Mills mall.
O'Malley (D), appearing on Maryland Public Television, said the state "will be fine" regardless of how the Anne Arundel County Council resolves a zoning dispute that is holding up a 4,750-machine casino proposed by Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. And O'Malley restated his long-held preference that slots be located at racetracks -- an option in this case only if the Cordish bid fails.
"Whichever way they decide at this point in the process will be fine," O'Malley said of the Anne Arundel Council, which is scheduled to consider the matter Dec. 7. "We can move forward either way. But the important thing is that they make a decision. I'm still of the belief that the closer we have them located to tracks, the better."
O'Malley's comments came just hours after a state commission evaluating slots proposals warned that the Arundel Mills bid is in jeopardy if zoning is not secured soon. Under state law, proposed casinos must comply with local zoning rules to be licensed by the state.
Cordish was the only qualified bidder in February for the Anne Arundel license, one of five authorized by voters in last year's election. A bid by the owners of Laurel Park racetrack was thrown out because it did not include a required $28.5 million licensing fee.
That track is now expected to be auctioned off early next year as part of bankruptcy proceedings that could draw multiple suitors. Cordish has indicated an interest in buying the track but insisted the mall is the only location the company wants to put slots.
The zoning issue has paralyzed the Anne Arundel council for months. On Dec. 7, it will consider two bills, one that would allow slots at the mall and another that would allow slots at several other locations, including the race track.
The complete MPT interview of O'Malley can be seen be clicking here.
October 22, 2009; 2:55 PM ET
Categories: Governor , John Wagner , Slots
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