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Group opposed to Md. slots casino says it has enough signatures to force public vote

Thumbnail image for Anne Arundel slots.jpgA coalition opposed to a planned slots casino at Arundel Mills mall said Friday that it had gathered far more signatures than required to force a public vote that could sink the project.

The group said it submitted an additional 16,702 voter signatures to the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections. A previous batch of signatures already certified by the board left the group with only 5,654 to collect to meet a Monday deadline for 19,790 names.

If the board validates enough of the signatures in coming days, county voters will get a say in November on zoning legislation approved by the county council in December that is needed for construction of Maryland's largest slots casino.

Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based developer behind the planned slots casino, has sued the elections board, alleging "glaring and massive fraud" in the petition-gathering process.

"Neither two blizzards nor a baseless lawsuit by a casino developer could stop the extraordinary will and tireless efforts of county residents to place the slots zoning ordinance on the ballot," said Rob Annicelli, president of the citizens group "Stop Slots at Arundel Mills."

Annicelli's group joined forces on the petition drive with horse-racing interests who would like to see slots instead go to Laurel Park racetrack in Anne Arundel County. The state is awarding only one license in the county.

The Maryland Jockey Club, the operator of Laurel Park, has provided the vast majority of funding for the coalition, most of it for paid petition-gatherers.

By John Wagner  |  March 5, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Slots  
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how do people think jobs are created if projects like this one don't get the go ahead? we all talk about the economic situation and the jobless rate but we then put our names on these petitions against this thing and that thing for what ever reason. do you see any thing else coming do the road to help the folks who need jobs. yeah the race track wants the casino but who's to say that they will do it any better or different than these people. oh because it's in the mills...... is that a deal breaker for everybody?

Posted by: bumpandgrindduv | March 5, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

"how do people think jobs are created if projects like this one don't get the go ahead?"

They can go ahead if they do like they originally promised. The campaign for referendum authorizing slots in 2008 spoke of casinos at race tracks, not overcrowded suburban malls. It was only after the referendum passed that the Cordish company and the county elected officials such as John Leopold and James Benoit sprung the Mall location. The voters want to have a say in this decision, they don't want it imposed on them by a sleazy deal between a big money developer and dishonest politicians.

Posted by: RealChoices | March 6, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

I have been a resident of a state that does allow legal casinos (Nevada) and I do not want a casino within a mile or two of my house.

Real estate values fall, local businesses fail, and the casino expands, and expands some more. While at the same time the local area still deteriorates. Traffic congestion increases, as does crime. Watched it happen in Sparks Nevada over a 10 year span of time, and could not get out of there fast enough.

Right now, Arundel Mills Mall already has become a crime magnet. It also has a traffic flow problem. At times it is so heavily congested, traffic just does not move. Build a casino, it will only get worse.

What really brothers me is that all the local media play up how "great" this is, great??? If it is so great, why not up in Howard County? Why not down in Annapolis?

There's a spot between the Mall and the Medical Center - perfect!

I know of many voters that voted approving a slots casino -- at the racetracks, not in our backyards.

The jobs are NOT high paying skilled jobs, but low wage service jobs. Cocktail waitress, casino clean up and "rent-a-cop" security jobs are not going to solve the employment problems for all of Maryland.

Posted by: sdent60 | March 11, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

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