By JESSICA TALSON
ANNAPOLIS (September 28, 2011)—The State Lottery Agency on Wednesday eliminated two out of the five proposals from companies vying to build slots casinos in Baltimore and the Rocky Gap Resort.
The Video Lottery Facility Location Commission will pick from the remaining proposals.
Of the two proposals for a Baltimore casino, only CBAC Gaming LLC was recommended. The agency received three proposal for the Rocky Gap Resort location, and from those three Landow Partners LLC and Evitts Resort LLC were recommended to the commission.
A bid from Allegany Entertainment Group for Rocky Gap was denied because of problems with the application. The bid from Baltimore City Casino LLC did not include a required licensing fee.
The choice of a casino builder can heavily influence how successful a casino becomes. Builders have jurisdiction over design aesthetics, community relations and whether more amenities are built, like golf courses and spas.
"The model in Maryland is Hollywood Casino in Perryville. They did a great job of establishing relationships with people in Cecil County," said Dr. James Karmel, a gaming analyst for the consulting company Gaming Atlantic, and a business professor at Harford Community College.
After years of debating slots, the Maryland legislature passed a bill that put the question to a referendum in 2008. Marylanders voted to allow five slots casinos throughout the state.
Hollywood Casino in Cecil County and the Casino at Ocean Downs in Worcester County are currently Maryland's only two operating slots parlors. In August alone, the combined income of Hollywood Casino and Ocean Downs was $13.1 million. State officials are pleased with that number, especially considering the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Ocean Downs was forced to close on the weekend that the hurricane hit because the Eastern Shore was evacuated. Hollywood Casino remained open but had fewer visitors than usual.
Maryland Live! At Arundel Mills Mall is currently under construction and is scheduled to be partially open by June 2012, and be fully operational in the fall of next year. The casino will have about 4,750 slot machines.
If built and managed correctly, the Allegany County and Baltimore casinos could bring money to the state and create jobs.
So far in 2011, the two open casinos have put $50.4 million into the Maryland Education Trust Fund. Every casino in Maryland will be required to put almost 50 percent of its revenue into the trust fund.
"I think that it's pretty clear now that the doomsayers are wrong. Calamity has not struck Worcester County or Perryville because they opened casinos," Karmel said.
However, slots opponents remain. The Washington Post reported this week that Prince George's County Council Member Eric Olson, D-College Park, has introduced a bill that would ban slots in Prince George's County.