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Ameristar Scouting for Baltimore Casino Location

8 October 2003

LAS VEGAS – As reported by the Baltimore Sun: "A major Las Vegas-based company is scouting sites in Baltimore for a full-scale casino as it tries to persuade legislators to look beyond proposals to permit slot machines only at Maryland's horse racing tracks.

"`We're looking at sites in the Baltimore metro area,' said Michael Gisriel, an Annapolis lobbyist for Ameristar Casinos.

"…Gisriel said the company, which has casinos in Nevada, Missouri, Iowa and Mississippi, would seek to acquire an option on property near downtown Baltimore by early next year.

"… Gisriel's comments came in an interview shortly after Ameristar Vice President Gordon Konofsky made a direct pitch for full-scale casinos to a legislative committee that is studying gambling in Maryland.

"During a hearing at Morgan State University, Konofsky proposed to the House Ways and Means Committee that it consider allowing `two resort-style casinos, one in Prince George's County and one in the Baltimore area,' in addition to four racetrack `racinos' proposed last year.

"…He predicted a blend of casinos and racinos would generate $1 billion annually in tax revenues after five years, about a third more than was forecast under a slots-at-tracks-only proposal earlier this year.

"… Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said he favors slots at racetracks only and is opposed to full-scale casinos, complete with table games such as blackjack, poker and craps.

"But a spokesman for Ehrlich signaled yesterday that the governor would be willing to consider legislation that includes casinos, along with slots at racetracks.

"…Joseph A. De Francis, chief executive of the Maryland Jockey Club, a minority owner of Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park, said the tracks can live with gambling elsewhere as long as the tracks are allowed to offer the same types of gambling as others and the tax rates are the same…"

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