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O'Malley defends state's slots program


Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) defended the state's slots program during a radio interview Tuesday morning, saying the process of awarding licenses is unfolding largely "as the voters approved it."

With bids to operate the state's two largest venues hanging in the balance, the program has received some criticism lately, including a piece Tuesday in The Washington Examiner, which called Maryland's slots initiative "craps."

O'Malley was asked about that story during a "Hands Across the Potomac" segment on WTOP radio that also included Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D). You can listen to the entire show below.

"I never for a second believed that slots was the be-all, end-all answer to the fiscal challenges that we were left by the previous administration," O'Malley said, in response to a question by WTOP personality Mark Plotkin.

The governor took credit for ending a lengthy stalemate on the issue in 2007 by securing legislation to put the legalization of slots on the ballot last year.

"We broke the logjam," O'Malley said. "We sent it to the voters."

It remains unclear whether -- and how quickly -- the state's slots program could start generating the more than $600 million a year in revenue that state analysts projected prior to the vote.

So far, a state commission has awarded two licenses to operate facilities in Worcester and Cecil counties. Operators of those venues say they will open next year.

The fate of larger proposed sites in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore could become clearer next month. A bid to put slots at Arundel Mills Mall has been stalled by a local zoning dispute, while the developers of the Baltimore site have yet to produce a required licensing fee for the project to proceed.

A fifth site, in Allegany County, received no qualified bids when the state sought proposals in February.

On the radio, O'Malley also took issue with the assessment in the Examiner piece of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) that the state should "start over" on slots.

"He says a lot of outrageous things," O'Malley told Plotkin. "You know that, Mark."

By John Wagner  |  November 24, 2009; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Slots  
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Next: State, county look to act on Arundel slots on Dec. 7

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