September 28, 2009
Maryland has issued its first license for slot machines to Ocean Downs racetrack on the Eastern Shore. William M. Rickman Jr., the owner of Ocean Downs, said he hopes to have the slots parlor operating by Memorial Day. The license allows up to 800 machines.
This is the first of five site to be approved by a state commission authorized by voters in last year's election.
"By our action today, we are showing this moving forward," said the commission chairman, Donald C. Fry. Fry indicated that the next applicant to be considered for approval will likely be Penn National Gaming, which has proposed putting 500 slot machines in Cecil County. Their license could be awarded as early as October 21st and may be revised to 1,500 machines.
The commission's decisions on proposals for Anne Arundel County and Baltimore are likely to be delayed. The Cordish Companies have proposed placing 4,750 machines at Arundel Mills mall, but are facing a zoning fight with the county council. In Baltimore a background check of the potential operators is proceeding slowly, partly due to "a combination of multiple partners involved in the process," according to Fry. The group would like to put a casino with 3,750 machines at a site just south of the professional football stadium where the Ravens play.
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