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Baltimore wants $36 million in slots casino rent

8 January 2009

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- As reported by The Baltimore Sun: "Baltimore expects developers interested in operating the city's only slots casino to pay at least $36 million in yearly rent to the city and build it to exacting environmental specifications, officials told about a dozen lobbyists, lawyers and developers Wednesday.

"The city's demands come on top of a 67 percent state tax rate that some analysts say threatens the viability of five casino licenses statewide approved by voters as a way to rescue Maryland from financial crisis. The national economic meltdown, not envisioned when the General Assembly hammered out the slots proposal in 2007, has raised further doubts about the success of slots at a time when gambling projects nationwide are struggling.

"'I think it's a mistake,' Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Wednesday of Baltimore's bidding criteria. Miller, a major force behind the constitutional amendment legalizing slot machines, called on Gov. Martin O'Malley to negotiate lower expectations with Mayor Sheila Dixon, and he said he worried the city's requirements could 'serve as a deterrent to significant investors.'

"...When state voters in November legalized the establishment of 15,000 slot machines in Maryland, they set in motion a possible 3,750-machine Baltimore casino slated for two parcels of city-owned land in a warehouse district south of the Inner Harbor..."

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