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Maryland race track wants slots bid allowed

27 February 2009

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Maryland -- As reported by The (Baltimore) Sun: "Owners of the Laurel Park racetrack are trying to revive their disqualified bid for slot machines with a last-ditch constitutional claim, but attorneys for the state argued in court today that "market conditions" rather than a legal flaw led to the defective application.

Long considered a front-runner for a lucrative gambling license, Laurel Park was disqualified this month after its parent, financially ailing Magna Entertainment Corp., failed to submit $28.5 million in required slots-application fees.

Attorneys for the track are suing the state, claiming that the failure to pay was appropriate because the fees are technically not refundable, and that the entire bidding process constitutes an illegal 'forfeiture of property' prohibited by the Maryland Constitution.

"'There is no refundability under the clear and unambiguous language' of the gambling law ratified by voters in November, said Alan Rifkin, an attorney for the track and partner in an influential Annapolis law and lobbying firm that positioned Laurel Park for slots, only to see it come up short at the 11th hour.

In more than an hour of impassioned monologue today in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, Rifkin narrated a wide-ranging argument that suggested Maryland bureaucrats might be committing a 'felony' if they were to refund fees, and he implored Judge William C. Mulford II to prevent the 'enormous harm' to Maryland horse racing by preserving Laurel's chances for slots..."

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