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Canadian firm won’t make second bid for Baltimore casino

Baltimore City Entertainment Group, the casino company led by Canadian homebuilder Michael Moldenhauer will not make a second bid for the Baltimore city casino license, the company announced Thursday.

But, state officials hope there is more interest when the window for developers to submit proposals for the Baltimore and Western Maryland casinos closes Friday afternoon than there was the first time around.

BCEG submitted the only Baltimore bid in February 2009, and the Video Lottery Facility Commission rejected it later that year after the company failed to solidify its proposal and financing.

At least five other developers have expressed interest in the Baltimore license since the commission sought new proposals starting in April. They consist of a group headed by local attorney William H. “Hassan” Murphy III; a partnership between developer Patrick Turner and mega-resort company MGM; an Oklahoma Native American tribe; and two holding companies with diverse gaming interests.

“We’re still very hopeful there will be at least one proposal for each location,” commission Chairman Donald C. Fry said. “We’re hoping for multiple proposals, but what is most important to us is to have at least one qualified bidder at each location.”

BCEG, however, will not be out of the picture. The company has a raft of lawsuits pending in state and federal courts, challenging the commission’s rejection of its bid as well as the constitutionality of new minority business requirements.

“The slot process was mismanaged in 2990 and continues again in 2011,” Moldenhauer said Thursday in a statement. “As a result of this mismanagement we have taken appropriate legal steps and will continue to pursue our legal rights to correct these errors and mismanagement. We remain confident that our legal claims will result in us being able to build the casino in Baltimore.”

Fry said the commission was confident it was on “firm legal ground” in moving forward with the second round of bidding.

“The commission made its decision back in December 2009 to reject the limited proposal that had been submitted by BCEG,” he said. “And we indicated at that time we would welcome a bid from them in the new process, but we thought it was in the best interest of the state and its citizens to start that new process.”

BCEG’s appeal of the commission’s decision to reject its 2009 bid is pending before the state Court of Special Appeals. The Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals and Baltimore City Circuit Court have both sided with the commission.

BCEG filed a reverse discrimination suit in July in U.S. District Court, alleging the minority business participation, or MBE, requirements for casino developers were too high.

The commission has since altered the MBE requirements, removing hard benchmarks in favor of goals that will be set on a project-by-project basis.