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Slots panel rejects two gaming license bids

ANNAPOLIS — A state commission rejected two proposals for Maryland’s remaining gaming licenses Wednesday, leaving one developer in the running for the Baltimore site and two for the Rocky Gap Lodge and Resort site in Allegany County.

Video Lottery Facility Location Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry said a representative of Baltimore City Casino LLC told him the group does not plan to challenge the commission’s decision to reject its bid.

The BCC group submitted a proposal Friday morning but did not pay the $22.5 million license fee required to bring 3,750 slot machines to the site south of M&T Bank Stadium.

Charles Hopkins, one of the BCC principals, was in the audience at the start of the commission’s meeting. Hopkins, the president and CEO of RMD Holdings LLC in Bethesda, said he didn’t plan to speak, and left only a few minutes into the two-hour session.

Fry said he spoke to Hopkins after the bids were due.

“He understood they had not submitted their money along with it (the proposal),” said Fry. “He understood that would be a disqualifying factor. He accepted that and did not plan on pursuing any legal actions as a result.”

Hopkins did not respond to phone calls and an email message seeking comment after the meeting.

Fry credited Hopkins with a “classy response,” one that contrasts starkly with the actions of the last development group that saw its bid rejected for the Baltimore casino license.

Maryland is still engaged in three separate legal battles with Baltimore City Entertainment Group. There is a fight over BCEG’s $3 million license fee in Baltimore City Circuit Court, a reverse discrimination suit filed by the would-be developer in U.S. District Court and BCEG’s third appeal of the commission’s decision in the state Court of Special Appeals.

Wednesday’s unanimous decision by the commission leaves a bid headed by Caesars Entertainment Corp. as the only option Fry’s commission is considering in Baltimore. That team includes former Rouse Co. CEO Anthony Deering and his Caves Valley Partners real estate investment outfit, A&R Cos. and the parent company of the Maryland Jockey Club.

“In Baltimore City, the company had to put up $22.5 million,” Fry said. “From that there’s an indication that they’re serious about this financially.”

Fry said the Caesars group would disclose details about its proposal in late October or early November when the commission visits the proposed site and holds a public hearing. The commission hopes to make a decision on the bids for Baltimore and Western Maryland in early 2012, he added.

The commission also rejected one of the three Western Maryland proposals on Wednesday.

Robert Howells, the chief procurement officer for the Maryland State Lottery Agency, said the proposal for a slots parlor with 200 terminals from Allegany Entertainment Group and Potts Gaming LLC was missing several components.

The group did not submit a license fee because the legislature waived the fee on the first 500 slot machines at Rocky Gap.

The commission’s unanimous rejection means it will have two bids to evaluate. Nathan Landow, the former head of the Maryland Democratic Party, proposed a slots facility with 500 slot machines and Evitts Resort LLC, a group led by Paragon Project Resources Inc., an engineering firm in Texas, submitted a bid for 850 machines. Evitts included a $2.1 million licensing fee.

Maryland’s first two casinos are up and running in Cecil and Worcester counties and the third and largest slots emporium is under construction in Anne Arundel County.

Maryland Live! Casino is scheduled to open in two phases, with about 2,750 machines in June 2012 and the full complement of 4,750 in October or November of that year, according to lottery Director Stephen L. Martino.