State to seek more bidders for W. Md. slots site
Maryland will try for a second time to find an operator for a slots parlor at the financially struggling Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Western Maryland.
A state panel on Monday approved a new round of bidding for the location, which drew no qualified offers in February 2009, when Maryland first solicited bids for its five authorized slots sites.
State officials are hoping an improving economy and a few sweeteners have upped the ante this time.
Among other enticements, operators of the Rocky Gap site in Allegany County will be allowed to keep 35.5 percent of the proceeds, compared with 33 percent at the state's other four locations. The legislature changed the percentage during this year's session.
The higher take lasts for only five years, though, and is contingent on the operator also buying the hotel at the site, where as many as 1,500 machines will be allowed.
An operator will also be allowed to temporarily put some slot machines in the hotel while an adjacent casino is being constructed. That is another change from last time around.
"There obviously is a little greater incentive now," said Donald C. Fry, chairman of the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission. "Hopefully, there's going to be someone who sees this as an opportunity."
During Monday's meeting of Fry's panel, members also receive updates from staff on the status of the state's other sites:
* Cecil County: Hollywood Casino Perryville is still on track to open in late September, which would make it the first slots venue to open in Maryland.
* Worcester County: A slots parlor at Ocean Downs racetrack could be open by late December.
* Baltimore: The only group that sought to operate a venue in downtown Baltimore has protested the state panel's decision in December to reject its bid. The protest is pending before another state panel, which will hold hearings in September.
* Anne Arundel County: The state's highest court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday as to whether a local ballot measure should proceed that would give county residents a say on zoning required for the casino.
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