Anne Arundel County citizens spoke clearly and decisively last week when they voted 56 percent to 44 percent to approve zoning for a casino next to the Arundel Mills mall.
The costly campaign financed largely by the Maryland Jockey Club, owner of the Laurel Park race course, to block a casino at the mall has cost Maryland taxpayers valuable time and much-needed revenue.
The Jockey Club wanted the casino at Laurel Park, where it would have pumped millions into that nearly moribund track. And that may well have happened except that when it came to time to submit bids for a casino license with the state, the jockey club’s parent company, Magna Entertainment Corp., did not pony up the required fee.
Magna’s bid was disqualified as a result. Baltimore developer David Cordish, who did submit the required fee, was awarded the license.
The Jockey Club unsuccessfully challenged its disqualification in the courts. It then backed a campaign to petition the zoning for a casino at Arundel Mills to referendum. The club had every right to pursue that option, but it, too, failed.
The way we count, that’s strikes one, two and three against the Maryland Jockey Club in this dispute.
Clearly, there are broader issues for the state to confront regarding the financial health of the Maryland racing industry.
But the outcome of this process is very clear. David Cordish played by the rules and legitimately won a license to build a casino. Three efforts to overturn that outcome have failed.
Meanwhile, the state’s fiscal crisis deepens daily, and Cordish’s casino is expected to generate more than $400 million in state taxes every year. It’s time to start building that casino — now.