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Baltimore developer enters slot competition

20 January 2009

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- As reported by The (Baltimore) Sun: "A politically connected Baltimore developer has teamed up with Hard Rock International to bid on one of five Maryland slot-machine licenses, the Orlando-based restaurant and casino operator announced yesterday.

"Hard Rock, which runs more than 120 cafe restaurants and several hotels and casinos around the world, has signed an exclusivity agreement with Baltimore's Banks Contracting Co. Inc., owned by Kenneth R. Banks, who is also treasurer of the state Democratic Party.

"...The Hard Rock/Banks partnership, known as Maryland Gaming Group LLC, is interested in building a slots parlor in either Baltimore or near the Laurel Park racetrack in Anne Arundel County, according Johnnie D. Bond Jr., an attorney representing the partnership. Although its contemplation of a hotel-casino complex fits the type of development Baltimore is asking bidders to put forward, Bond said the city's $36 million lease demands were "high," and "there are a lot of people concerned" about the state's 67 percent tax rate on slots proceeds.

"Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November legalizing 15,000 slot machines at five Maryland locations. Preliminary applications are due Feb. 2 to a commission that will award the licenses in Cecil, Worcester and Allegany counties, in addition to Baltimore and Anne Arundel..."

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