Stronach Group in Maryland Casino Venture

Caesars is lead investor for plan to build VLT casino in downtown Baltimore.

The Stronach Group, which owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, is part of a group that has filed an application to construct a video lottery terminal casino in downtown Baltimore.

The application for one of two remaining VLT licenses was filed on behalf of Caesars Entertainment, CVPR Gaming Holdings, Rock Gaming LLC, and The Stronach Group. Caesars called itself the “lead investor” in the project.

Baltimore is among the five locations identified for a VLT casino. Two are open—Hollywood Casino Perryville, owned by Penn National Gaming Inc.; and Casino at Ocean Downs, a harness track owned by Delaware Park owner William Rickman Jr. A third is under construction at Arundel Mills Mall not far from Laurel.

“We are pleased to present the State of Maryland with a uniquely qualified team of professionals to consider for its license to operate a video lottery terminal facility in Baltimore,” Caesars Entertainment chairman, president, and chief executive officer Gary Loveman said in a statement. “We look forward to the opportunity to build on our collective commitment to revitalizing urban markets nationwide through the creation of a world-class casino entertainment experience in Baltimore.”

Baltimore City Casino LLC also submitted a VLT license application by the Sept. 23 deadline but, unlike the Caesars group, didn't submit the $22.5 million licensing fee. Both proposals are for the maximum 3,750 gaming devices.

Caesars and Rock Gaming are building full-scale casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio. Caesars is also in the horse racing business; the company owns Thistledown near Cleveland, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack in Pennsylvania, Players Bluegrass Downs in Kentucky, and a half-interest in Turfway Park in Kentucky.

The privately held Stronach Group was launched earlier this year after chairman Frank Stronach and his family purchased racetrack holdings formerly owned by MI Developments.

The company thus far has failed in its costly attempt to get a VLT license for Laurel. Earlier this year officials floated the idea of building a new racetrack in downtown Baltimore to replace Pimlico, home of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), third leg of the Triple Crown.

According to the Maryland Lottery, the two operating VLT casinos generated $131.7 million revenue for various programs through Aug. 31. Purses and breed development have received $9.2 million, while a racetrack facility renew account earned $3.4 million.

Legislation passed this year in Maryland shifts some of the VLT revenue to racetrack operations for a limited period.