A coalition of Maryland petitioners have submitted 23,702 signatures to the Anne Arundel Board of Elections Feb. 4 in support of a referendum to allow county citizens to vote on whether to permit the state’s largest slots casino at the Arundel Mills Mall. The signatures submitted far exceed the interim requirement of 9,395 signatures needed by Feb. 5 and surpass the 18,790 signatures ultimately required to place the zoning ordinance on the ballot in November.
In December, the Anne Arundel County council approved zoning to allow a 4,750-slot parlor to be built in what is now a parking lot at Arundel Mills Mall. The casino has been proposed by the Cordish Co., who is also a bidder for the Maryland Jockey Club (Laurel Park and Pimlico) owned by the bankrupt Magna Entertainment Corp. There are other groups bidding on the MJC and seeking a slots license, including Blow Horn Equity and Joe De Francis.
“Without question, there is overwhelming opposition by Anne Arundel County citizens to placing a casino at Arundel Mills Mall,” said Rob Annicelli, president of the citizens group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills. “I would like to thank the volunteers and ask them to continue to collect signatures until the Board of Elections certifies the petition question.”
“People are voting with their signatures; they want the zoning ordinance on the ballot,” said Heather Ford, coalition coordinator for Citizens Against Slots at the Mall. “We know we will have more than enough validated petition signatures by the time we are done to place the zoning question on the November ballot.”
According to Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, “We are confident, that if given the choice, the people of Anne Arundel County will choose a more appropriate location for 4,750 slot machines that will benefit our county, our state, education funding and the thousands of jobs in the horse racing industry.”
A true copy of the petition filing, including all pages and signatures, was also filed with Brault Graham, a Rockville, Md., law firm, which is serving as the escrow agent to hold and maintain the copy of the petition filing. A representative of Brault Graham accompanied the petitioners and observed the delivery of the petitioners’ interim filing.