Slots opponents begin airing TV ads

Ads are first volley in what is expected to be a massive public battle

August 13, 2010|By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun

Opponents of slot machines at Arundel Mills mall said they launched television ads Friday as part of what is expected to be a hard-fought public battle over the state's most lucrative slots parlor.

David Jones, chairman of the citizens group "No Slots at the Mall," which is sponsoring the campaign to overturn zoning on slots by county ballot referendum this November, called the first foray a "significant ad buy," but declined to say how much it cost. The ad begins airing in the Baltimore media market and in Anne Arundel County on cable.

The 30-second advertisement, which is posted on YouTube, features a female narrator urging voters to keep slots "away from a family-friendly environment" like the proposed site at the mall. Over images of horse racing, the narrator says slots should be located at a "common-sense location where gambling already occurs."

Jones said the Maryland Jockey Club, which largely financed the successful effort allowing a ballot referendum, helped pay for the television advertisements. The Jockey Club, which unsuccessfully bid for a slots license at Laurel Park racetrack, has joined with the residents' group in hopes of stopping the Cordish Cos. from building the 4,750-machine slots parlor.

"We're going to do what's necessary," said Jones. "We will continue to have constant exposure, whether it's TV ads or other exposure, up until the election."

A spokeswoman for the Cordish Cos., which would develop the mall site, released a statement in response to the television ads, stressing that if the referendum fails, "there will be no new jobs and no revenues from slots to the state or county, most likely ever."

Spokeswoman Danielle Babcock said in a statement that the media effort is being funded by "foreign and out-of-state companies whose concern is their own corporate profits, not the interests of the state of Maryland or Anne Arundel County."

A spokesman for the Jockey Club declined to comment.

The Court of Appeals ruled in July that the ballot referendum on the zoning ordinance for slots at the mall should go forward, reversing a lower court's decision that the zoning was tied to an appropriations bill and therefore could not be put to vote.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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