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Posted at 3:52 PM ET, 01/27/2011

Ground broken on Arundel slots location

By John Wagner

Thumbnail image for Anne Arundel slots.jpgFlanked by state and Anne Arundel County leaders, developers of a planned slots casino broke ground Thursday in a parking lot of an outlet mall that is expected to become Maryland's most lucrative gambling destination.

"This is definitely a job-creator," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), a last-minute stand-in at the event at Arundel Mills mall for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), whom aides said was busy dealing with the aftermath of the snowstorm. Acknowledging the controversy that has surrounded the planned 4,750-machine facility, Brown said, "it's here, we're excited about it."

His message was echoed by other dignitaries who stood on a makeshift stage amid piles of snow in a cordoned-off area of the parking lot, just outside the mall's food court.

Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold (R) also touted the hundreds of millions in revenue the casino is expected to generate, saying it would become "the largest taxpayer in the state."

The project -- called Maryland Live! -- survived a months-long zoning battle in Anne Arundel and a public vote in November forced by neighbors opposed to the casino and a horse-racing interest that would rather see slots at nearby Laurel Park racetrack.

A temporary facility with about half the number of allowed slot machines is expected to open later this year in the lower level of a parking deck being constructed as part of the project. The permanent casino has been advertised to feature several upscale restaurants and an intimate live music venue, as well as slots machines and electronic tables games.

"It's a very happy, exciting day for us," David Cordish, chairman of Cordish Cos., said as he kicked off the event celebrating the start of his project.

Before it ended, several dignitaries, including Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), signed their names in a slab of concrete that will become part of the facility.

"This is the way the Hollywood stars do it," Cordish said. "We've got President Miller here. It's the closest thing we have to a Hollywood star."

Several state officials, including Miller and O'Malley, expressed varied degrees of reluctance to see slots come to an outlet mall. O'Malley said repeatedly in recent months that he would have preferred all slots facilities be at race tracks.

By John Wagner  | January 27, 2011; 3:52 PM ET
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Thank you, Mr. Cordish, for allowing me and some of the other supporters to attend this event. It truly was a historical moment! Now comes the waiting...Governor O'Malley, thank you for sending your Lt. Governor, because I think that your comments may have spoiled the day, anyway.

Posted by: Spojack895 | January 28, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

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