Appeal of city casino licenses should be decided soon

An attorney in the Maryland Office of the Attorney General said Friday two appeals of a city casino license awarded to Caesars Entertainment Corp.-led CBAC Gaming LLC should be decided quickly.

HarborWest Partners LLC and Baltimore City Entertainment Group LP filed appeals this month. In response, Robert T. Fontaine filed motions to dismiss both appeals, writing that neither company had the right to appeal because they did not respond to a Request for Proposals issued in 2011.

BCEG and HarborWest have until mid-September to file a response. After that, the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals should move quickly to resolve the issue, Fontaine said.

The process should certainly move more quickly than other times BCEG has taken on the state, following a failed bid on the first RFP for a city casino license in 2009.

On Friday, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge granted a state motion for summary judgment, awarding all but some $201,000 of a casino license fee back to BCEG.


(Photo: The proposed Harrah’s Baltimore casino, to be operated by Caesars)

Virginia lawmaker files gambling bill

In June, Cordish Cos. President Joseph Weinberg likened the construction of a casino at National Harbor to a threat of war against Virginia, just a short drive across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

“It’s very akin to NATO placing nuclear missiles on Russia’s border,” Weinberg told members of a work group that studied expanding Maryland’s casino gambling program this summer.

The first step toward making the Maryland Live Casino developers’ prediction a reality was taken this week, The Washington Examiner reported, when a bill was filed for next year’s General Assembly session that would create a commission to license and oversee casinos in Virginia.

Much of the potential National Harbor casino’s business is expected to come from Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. tourists.

“States are acting like they are at war with neighboring states and have to protect their borders,” Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA Corp., told the Examiner.

Maryland voters must approve the operation of a casino in Prince George’s County, either at National Harbor or Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, on Nov. 6. Voters also will decide whether to approve the legalization of table games, such as blackjack and roulette, at all state casinos.

Cordish had opposed the licensing of a sixth Maryland casino, south of its facility in Hanover, because it feared losing revenue from Washington-area gamblers. The company has not publicly opposed the referendum since the General Assembly adjourned a special session that granted Maryland Live a tax break that could reach 18 percentage points if a Prince George’s casino opens.

(Photo: Cordish Cos. President of Gaming Joseph Weinberg)

Eye Opener: First Lady to hold two state fundraisers

With the Republican National Convention closed out and the Democratic National Convention right around the corner, here’s a few election-related headlines to get you started this morning:

- The Baltimore Sun reports that First Lady Michelle Obama will hold two fundraisers in Maryland.

- The Washington Post reports that several Maryland gubernatorial hopefuls will play host to the state’s Democratic Party at next week’s convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Capital News Service reports some Maryland Republican delegates called Mitt Romney’s acceptance of the party’s nomination for president “inspiring.”

- The Daily Record and others report that Maryland finished fiscal year 2012 with a revenue surplus.

(Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian/White House photographer)

Delegate spars with Ravens linebacker over same-sex marriage

A Baltimore County lawmaker wants a Baltimore Ravens linebacker to sack his public support for gay marriage.

Ravens linebacker and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is offering up two tickets to the teams’ season opener to someone who donates to a group supporting Maryland’s same-sex marriage law. The law was petitioned to referendum by opponents, and voters will decide same-sex marriage’s fate on Nov. 6.

Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., D-Baltimore County, has a problem with Ayanbadejo’s involvement with the campaign.

In a letter to Ravens owners Steve Bisciotti, Burns wrote it was “inconceivable” that a Ravens player would “publicly endorse same-sex marriage.” Burns said many of his constituents are “appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens football team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other.”

“I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base,” Burns wrote. “I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as national football franchise owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee.”

Ayanbadejo’s participation in the debate and the campaign is hardly new. In April 2009, the Ravens linebacker penned a column for The Huffington Post headlined “Same Sex Marriages: What’s the Big Deal?

In October 2011, the linebacker appeared in a video sponsored by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

“I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other,” Ayanbadejo says in the video. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Updated, 6:29 p.m.: After being told about Burns’ letter through a Twitter message Thursday, Ayanbadejo tweeted “people are so ignorant.

He followed that tweet up with an explanation of his support for same-sex marriage.

“The fight is not about same sex marriage or interracial marriage or slavery or equal rights for women,” Ayanbadejo tweeted. “The fight is for equality for all!”

(Photo: Associated Press)

Gambling supporters spend $1.9 million on referendum

The ballot-issue committee supporting an expansion of Maryland’s casino gambling program has already spent $1.9 million, according to state elections filings.

The group, For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., is being funded by MGM Resorts International Inc., the casino developer that wants to build a 3,000-slot resort gambling site at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

Television and radio ads paid for by the group are airing statewide.

The gambling expansion, if approved by voters on Nov. 6, would also legalize table games such as blackjack and poker at every casino in the state.

Penn National Gaming Inc., operator of Hollywood Casino Perryville, joined the ballot fight Wednesday, when it registered a committee called Get the Facts – Vote No on 7.

MGM had donated $2.4 million to the supportive ballot committee as of Friday. Penn National’s committee has not yet filed a financial disclosure, but a full-page ad from the company was printed in The Baltimore Sun on Thursday.

Karen Bailey, a Penn National spokeswoman, said “more info on the committee will be forthcoming in the coming days.”

Eye Opener: Ehrlich aide joins marriage referendum fight

Just a few government headlines to get you started this Thursday morning.

Eye Opener: Democratic campaign attacks Bartlett

Here’s a few Maryland government headlines on the morning after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gained the Republican nomination for president:

Eye Opener: MGM spends $2.4 million on gambling campaign

MGM Resorts International Inc. has struck first in the cash battle that is expected to define the expanded gambling ballot campaign.

The casino company, which wants to build a resort facility with 3,000 slot machines and table games such as blackjack at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, has already devoted about $2.35 million to ballot committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., according to state elections filings.

Another $34,000 has been made as an in-kind donation.

The Washington Post first reported the news Monday.

Election filings show that, as of Aug. 24, the ballot committee has spent $330,000.

Here’s a few other Maryland government headlines:

State takes to YouTube to fight poor business perception

Apparently tired of frequent attacks from Maryland Republicans, who routinely condemn the state’s Democratic leadership for developing a business-unfriendly attitude in the state, members of the executive branch have authored blog posts and editorials telling their side.

And now, the battle has gone to YouTube.

The state Department of Business and Economic Development posted a quirky, two-and-a-half minute video Friday that rebuts the claims of organizations such as Change Maryland that deride Gov. Martin O’Malley for taxing wealthier Marylanders, a practice that the group says has led to a mass exodus of state taxpayers to places such as Virginia and North Carolina.

The group also argues that high taxes have been a major contributor to Maryland shedding jobs in the last several months, causing the state’s unemployment rate to rise from a January low of 6.5 percent to 7 percent.

The video, which has been viewed more than 400 times on YouTube, claims that business people see Maryland as “the land of opportunity.”

It goes on to laud the state’s top rankings in public education and entrepreneurship and says Maryland has the 12th lowest tax burden on new investment. It also cites statistics that indicate the number of millionaires in the state has increased 19 percent since 2007.

And many of the claims made by Change Maryland?

“Absolutely false,” the video asserts.

And that’s “The Truth About Maryland,” according to DBED.

YouTube Preview Image

Eye Opener: Maryland delegates dispatched to Tampa

Here’s a few Monday morning headlines as the Republican National Convention gets started: