Slots at Mall OK'd; MJC Vows to Fight
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

The Anne Arundel County Council Dec. 21 approved a zoning measure that will facilitate slot machines at the Arundel Mills Mall, but also OK’d a measure that allows slots at Laurel Park.

The mall site would house a slots casino already licensed by a state commission in Maryland. Cordish Cos. Plans to build a 215,000-square foot facility with 4,750 gaming devices.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel, opposes the plan for slots at the mall.

“It is a sad night for Maryland racing,” MJC president Tom Chuckas said in a statement released after the council vote. “The Maryland Jockey Club will fully support the counter initiative sponsored by the group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills Mall to bring this issue back to the voters of Anne Arundel County, who deserve the right to determine if a mall is what they wanted for gaming.

“We are going to continue to pursue all of our legal options and exhaust all means and measures to continue this fight.”

The MJC assets are controlled by Magna Entertainment Corp., which earlier this year bid for slots at Laurel but was disqualified because it failed to submit the required $28.5-million licensing fee. MEC has since appealed the decision by the state slots commission.

The council’s approval of both measures gives the county executive John Leopold the option of choosing between the two, the Associated Press reported. Leopold has said he supports the mall site.

Some Maryland lawmakers have expressed concern over the developments because they believe the intent of the 2008 statewide referendum on slots was to have one gaming at an MJC racetrack. Laurel was viewed as the best option.

Supporters of the plan by Cordish Cos., a Maryland-based developer, claim it could generate as much or more revenue for horse racing than a gaming parlor at Laurel. Cordish is one of the entities that submitted a bid for the MJC assets, which are scheduled to be auctioned Jan. 8 as part of the MEC bankruptcy process.

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