Anne M. Eberhardt

MD Group to Meet on Rejection of Slots Vote

A judge has rejected a referendum on slot machines in a Maryland county.

A citizens’ group will meet the evening of June 29 to discuss a court ruling that rejected a referendum on slot machines in Anne Arundel County, Md.

Citizens Against Slots at the Arundel Mills Mall submitted enough verified signatures to get the question on this year’s ballot, but on June 25, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth ruled the referendum illegal. The judge said zoning legislation authorizing the slots casino at the mall is part of a state appropriations package, so its fate can’t be determined via referendum.

Cordish Cos. was licensed by the state to build the slots facility adjacent the mall property, which is located not far from Laurel Park. The Maryland Jockey Club, which runs Laurel, joined the citizens’ group in its petition drive to get the question on the county ballot.

 The citizens’ group claims the 2008 statewide constitutional amendment on slots “clearly states that local communities have the final say on the appropriate site for a slots facility.”

According to published reports, the judge ruled the 2008 law would be “delayed and thwarted, if not fatally undermined” should the county referendum proceed. The citizens’ group is expected to appeal.

The Maryland slots program, which calls for five licensees, has been slow to move forward. Construction continues on two slots parlors—Ocean Downs harness track on the Eastern Shore, and a Penn National Gaming Inc.-owned facility off Interstate 95 in northern Maryland.