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Bidding for Maryland slots licenses begins today

2 February 2009

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- As reported by The (Baltimore) Sun: "As they prepare to open bids for slots licenses today, Maryland officials are casting a wary eye on Kansas, hoping that recent history will not be repeated.

"In Kansas, two gambling development companies won the rights to build 'destination casinos' near Kansas City and in the southeastern part of the state - projects that the state was relying on for an economic boost. But in the face of the recession, the companies have withdrawn their bids, leaving Kansas officials hanging, and delaying the flow of gambling dollars.

"The two development firms - The Cordish Cos. of Baltimore and Penn National Gaming Inc. in Pennsylvania - have said that they plan to be among the bidders for Maryland's five slots licenses. Bid submissions will be unsealed in Annapolis today, the most recent step in a years-long effort to bring slot machine gambling to Maryland.

"Donald C. Fry, chairman of a commission that will award up to five Maryland gambling licenses, said there was "pent-up expectation" and plenty of uncertainty in Annapolis as the deadline neared. 'We have no idea what this [bidding process] is going to produce,' said Fry, a former state legislator from Harford County and current president of the Greater Baltimore Committee. 'We'll have to see whether or not it produces the results they anticipated and hoped for.'

"The license-award process is launching amid a painful economic downturn that means less discretionary income for gamblers and less money for construction. Multimillion-dollar gambling projects in Las Vegas and Atlantic City are on hold, and big operators such as Donald Trump are facing bankruptcy.

"Last week, Maryland's House speaker, Michael E. Busch, expressed 'great concern' about the effect of the recession on the state's gambling future and said the slots commission should 'absolutely' look into Kansas' experience for guidance and lessons..."

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