Cordish Cos. says gambling bill is 'patently unfair' to current casino owners

August 08, 2012|by Annie Linskey

The Cordish Companies this afternoon blasted Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed legislation to expand gambling in Maryland as "patently unfair" to the existing casino operators.

Joe Weinberg, the Managing Partner at the Cordish Cos., said the firm has spent more than half a billion dollars building the state's largest casino adjacent to the Arundel Mills mall. His Maryland Live casino opened in June, and has made roughly a million dollars a day -- two thirds of which goes to the state.

"We have played by the rules created by the state, and never asked for any concession or break," Weinberg said. "We delivered a world-class facility that is already generating tens of millions of dollars of taxes for the state monthly, as promised."

O'Malley on Tuesday unveiled a legislation to allow a sixth casino - to be located in Prince George's County - and permit Vegas-style table games at all of the facilities. Also gambling would be allowed to occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cordish has been opposed to any expansion, though a list of demands from his camp was leaked to the media. Almost none of those provisions were included in the legislation. He had wanted a 20 points knocked off his effective tax rate (which includes 8 percentage points for taking over the ownership of slot machines.) O'Malley's plan knocks 11 points off the tax rate (which includes 6 percentage points for taking ownership of machines.) O'Malley's bill, however, also lets him argue before a commission for another 5 percentage points off the rate.

Cordish had wanted table games revenues to be taxed at 12.5 percent. O'Malley is suggesting 20 percent. Cordish wanted the Prince George's site to open in mid-2017. Instead it would open mid-2016.

"A basic premise of any potential changes to gaming laws in Maryland ... should be fairness to the existing licensees such as us that have made massive investments based on the state’s current rules," Weinberg said.

"As currently drafted, the proposed legislation is patently unfair to impacted operators and not in the best interests of the state, because it will undermine the health of the industry and negatively affect state tax revenues."

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