Maryland purchases first slots, despite protest
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D) on Wednesday approved contracts valued at almost $50 million over the objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) to purchase and lease more than 1,000 video slot machines.
The 2-1 vote marked Maryland's first foray into purchasing and leasing slot machines to fulfill a 2008 voter-approved ballot measure authorizing Maryland to place up to 15,000 slots at five sites across the state. A series of problems have led to delays at all five proposed locations, but Hollywood Casino Perryville is now in position to become the state's first operating casino by late October.
Franchot unsuccessfully argued that O'Malley's information technology department and the state's lottery agency, which added six proposed contracts for slots to the three-member Board of Public Works' agenda late Tuesday night, did not give members adequate time to review the contracts.
At the board meeting, administration officials said the state had negotiated savings but were unable to provide specifics. Without more information, Franchot said there was no way to know for sure, and he characterized the $50 million in contracts as a "windfall" for the gaming industry.
Under the deals, Maryland will purchase 795 machines and lease another 267 for the Cecil County site, which is being developed by Penn National Gaming, just off Interstate 95 near the Susquehanna River. Another contract for the balance of the site's 1,500 slots will come before the board in two weeks, officials said.
The recipient of the largest contract approved Wednesday was IGT, which will sell 329 terminals and lease another 12 to the state for $20.3 million. Maryland will also lease 231 terminals from Bally Gaming for $12 million; purchase 290 from Spielo Manufacturing for $9.9 million; and purchase 158 and lease 24 from Aristrocrat Technologies for $6.2 million. Shuffle Master, Inc. and KGM Gaming also received contracts for less than $1 million.
At an event last month, O'Malley trumpeted the casino as a job creator, highlighting estimates that it has provided 200 construction jobs, and will lead to another 350 once its doors open.
Aaron C. Davis
June 9, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , Slots
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