Busch, Miller agree with Baltimore slots rejection
Both presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly expressed approval Friday of a state panel's decision to throw out a slots bid in Baltimore. And House Speaker Michael E. Busch predicted the Anne Arundel County Council would finally reach a decision Monday on whether to grant zoning to a proposed casino at Arundel Mills mall.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said he was surprised by the decision Thursday to reject the bid of the Baltimore City Entertainment Group, which had missed several deadlines to present a financing plan and other details of its proposed 3,750-machine casino. But Miller said the rejection made sense.
"Obviously, it delays the process, but it also gives an opportunity for new bidders," Miller said. "In that sense, it might be a good thing."
Busch (D-Anne Arundel) agreed. "I think you're going to get more bidders that are interested, and I think you're going to get a better product," Busch said.
The group originally proposed a 500-machine casino but publicly promoted plans over the summer for a 3,750-machine facility. A required additional $19.5 million licensing fee was never delivered to the commission.
"You've got to pay to play," Miller said during a press conference he and Busch called to talk about a legislative recommendation that the governor include no spending growth in the budget next year. Many questions from reporters were about slots.
Busch said he said he thought the Anne Arundel council would make a zoning decision Monday night but was less definitive about what it would be.
One bill pending before the council would allow slots at Arundel Mills, as well as several similarly zoned sites.
Another would allow slots at some of those sites, but not at Arundel Mills -- the only location for which a slot license has been granted by a state commission.
Busch said he sees "a higher probability" that the bill including Arundel Mills passes. A plan by Cordish Cos. calls for a 4,750-machine casino on the property.
December 18, 2009; 3:01 PM ET
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