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W. Md. slots site fails to draw any bidders -- again

By John Wagner

Slots $.jpgDespite some new enticements, the state has failed for a second time to attract any bidders for a slot machine gambling site in Western Maryland.

A Tuesday deadline passed without any submissions to build and operate a slots parlor at the financially struggling Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort. The site is one of the smaller of five authorized by voters in a 2008 statewide referendum, with up to 1,500 machines allowed.

After a first round of bidding drew no applicants in February 2009, state lawmakers agreed to sweeten the pot in several ways in a second round.

Among other enticements, operators of the site in Allegany County would be allowed to keep 35.5 percent of the proceeds, compared with 33 percent at the state's other four locations. The higher take was to last for only five years, though, and was contingent on the operator also buying the hotel at the site.

Donald C. Fry, chairman of the state panel tasked with finding slots operators, told The Baltimore Sun that he is not willing to give up on the site.

"We've recognized that because of its location, because of various dynamics, it's more of a challenging location," said Fry. "But we still think it's a very viable location for the state of Maryland to be pursuing. We'll just have to regroup and see what we have to do to encourage bidding at this location."

The lack of interest in Rocky Gap comes just a week after a positive development for Maryland's fledgling slots program.

On Nov. 2, voters in Anne Arundel County approved a zoning law that will allow Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. to proceed with a planned 4,750-machine slots casino at Arundel Mills mall. The developer is considering building a temporary facility there next year.

One of the state's five authorized locations is already operating: Hollywood Casino Perryville, in the northeastern corner of the state, which has 1,500 machines. An 800-machine slots parlor at Ocean Downs race track could open by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the license to operate a 3,750-machine casino in downtown Baltimore is likely to be rebid in coming months.

By John Wagner  | November 10, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner, Slots  
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If you build it they will come. Rocky Gap seems like a great place to have slots, and would bring much needed jobs to the area. People come from near and far to go to other slots destinations, and I'm sure they would come to Rocky Gap.

Posted by: 10bestfan | November 10, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

So if Rocky Gap is such a great place for slots, how come nobody wants to bid on it? I've to the lodge and campgrounds, they are great getaways, quiet, rustic, in the middle of nowhere. I think this is why they are not so good for slots. Might as well head to W. Va.

Posted by: VikingRider | November 11, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

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