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Plans for Baltimore casino to be revealed

The development group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp. will unveil on Monday its proposal for a Baltimore casino just south of the city’s professional sports stadiums.

Key figures in the group are scheduled to tour the Russell Street sites with the state’s Video Lottery Facility Location Commission before detailing plans for an entertainment venue built around 3,750 slot machines.

Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry said the hearing at the Maryland State Lottery Agency headquarters will give members of the panel a chance to interact directly with “key players” in the Caesars group.

“This is a great opportunity to ask questions and gives the public a chance to testify on the proposal,” Fry said.

Both the commission and Caesars have kept the proposal under wraps leading up to the Monday hearing.

The Baltimore casino would be the second-largest in the state, behind only Maryland Live! Casino under construction in Anne Arundel County.

Fry said the commission hopes to make a decision on the Caesars proposal early next year.

“It could be as late as March because of the large number of background investigations that have to be completed,” he said.

The group’s application listed 27 principals and officers. They include Caesars Chairman, President and CEO Gary Loveman, Theo Rodgers of the A&R Cos., former Rouse Co. CEO Anthony Deering and Belinda Stronach.

Stronach, a former member of Canadian parliament, is the daughter of Frank Stronach, the Austrian-born racing magnate who owns the Maryland Jockey Club, Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park.

The list of principals also includes Daniel Gilbert, owner of the National Basketball Association Cleveland Cavaliers, who has partnered with Caesars on an Ohio casino.

The group submitted a $22.5 million license fee — $3 million for every 500 machines — along with its proposal on Sept. 23.

Fry said the commission hopes to avoid some of the confusion that marked the first proposal review in 2009. In the first round of bidding for the Baltimore license, some developers were not sure which city-owned parcels were available for the project.

The Caesars group has already signed an agreement with the city that lays out the 16 acres along Russell and Warner streets available for the project. The deal also includes financial conditions.

The casino would pay 2.99 percent of its gaming revenues as ground rent — the minimum payment will be $14 million by its fifth year in operation — and another $3.2 million in real estate taxes every year.

The first round of bidding yielded only one interested developer in 2009. Baltimore City Entertainment Group’s proposal was rejected that year. BCEG group has multiple court challenges pending.

A group led by RMD Holdings LLC submitted a proposal during the second round, but did not submit a $22.5 million license fee.

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