Miller Chides Arundel On Slots

From The Blogs Maryland Politics

Senate President Joins O'malley In Criticizing County Council's Lack Of Action On Rezoning

August 08, 2009|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,Laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a proponent of legalizing slot machines in Maryland, joined Gov. Martin O'Malley in chiding Anne Arundel County officials for their inaction on rezoning land where a slots parlor is proposed.

Miller characterized the debate on the Anne Arundel County Council as a "petty zoning war."

"This business that's happening in Anne Arundel County is criminal," said Miller, known for his blunt language. "We need to remove any obstacles and roadblocks in terms of implementing slots and get that program off the ground immediately."

The comments from O'Malley and Miller are an indication of the political pressure being brought on the County Council, which has tabled further discussion of the issue until the fall. O'Malley told members of the horse-racing and breeding industry Thursday that he found the situation "frustrating."

But technically, ground can't be broken on any slots facility until the state's slots commission awards licenses, and that's not expected until this fall. The commission is reviewing bids, including one from the Cordish Cos, a Baltimore-based developer that wants to build a casino next to Arundel Mills mall.

Miller also brought up another question: What about Rocky Gap State Park?

The location was among the five authorized by a voter-approved constitutional amendment, but a proposal to open a casino there was tossed out for failure to submit licensing fees. A competing bid in Anne Arundel from the Laurel Park track, owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., also was disqualified for lack of fees.

Officials could open another round of bidding to put slots at Rocky Gap in Allegany County, and Miller suggested O'Malley might call on the slots commission to make recommendations for that site. Shaun Adamec, an O'Malley spokesman, said the governor would like to move forward with putting slots there.

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