A second attempt to award a gaming license in Western Maryland was unsuccessful as Tuesday’s 2 p.m. deadline for interested parties to submit a proposal came and went with no takers.
The Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission had set the new deadline for proposals from bidders to add up to 1,500 slot machines to Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort in Allegany County. The commission had hoped the reworked proposal would garner interest from casino developers to not only bid on the license but also purchase the struggling resort from the state.
“A number of companies during the [request for proposal] process had expressed some interest, but the deadline came and passed and we didn’t receive any proposals,” said commission Chairman Donald C. Fry.
The lack of bids was frustrating to Western Maryland lawmakers who worked to make the site more lucrative to potential bidders after the initial proposal also drew no bidders.
“Not getting any bids is certainly not good news,” said Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington and Allegany. “I find it hard to believe we didn’t have a single proposal based on the changes we made.”
A bill passed in this year’s legislative session lowered the tax rate on gaming revenues at Rocky Gap from 67 percent to 64.5 percent for five years if the license holder also agreed to buy the resort. This change was estimated to be worth as much as $500,000 a year. A provision would have also allowed the casino developer to set up slot machines in a temporary facility during renovation.
The lack of bids was expected as no potential developers submitted a mandatory $100,000 payment to the state to cover a background investigation. That payment was due on Oct. 25.
“We’ll just have to figure what the next step will be,” said Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley. “There are already other locations that need to be bid out, and this would likely be packaged in with those.”
If that happens, the Allegany County license will likely be put up for bid again with a Baltimore City license also up for a second bid. Fry said the commission planned to question the potential bidders who had earlier expressed some interest as well as work with Myers and other Western Maryland lawmakers to see if further action might be necessary during the upcoming legislative session.
“At this stage we haven’t determined how we should proceed,” Fry said. “But at the commission’s next meeting we’ll be thinking of different strategies we can take.”