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Maryland rejects Landow-led casino bid for Rocky Gap

ANNAPOLIS – The state Friday afternoon rejected a bid led by former Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Nathan Landow to build a casino at the Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort.

The move leaves Maryland with just one surviving application to take over the struggling state-owned resort and turn it into a gambling venue.

Donald C. Fry, chairman of the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, said Landow’s group was never able to appease the bondholders sitting on $66 million in Rocky Gap debt, and never firmed up its plan for the slots site.

“We never received a full financial plan or a full business plan,” Fry said.

Landow submitted an application on Sept. 23 to build a casino with 500 slot machines at Rocky Gap.

Fry said the Landow group’s first stab at the application included about $25 million in state bonds to finance the construction of the facility.

After the commission told Landow that arrangement would not work, Landow said he could find lenders willing to cover that amount in private debt, according to Fry.

But, Fry said, Landow never submitted proof to the commission that he could come up with that money.

The Maryland State Lottery Agency also had trouble with its background investigation of the Landow proposal.

Stephen L. Martino, the agency’s director, said Friday investigators have not been able to determine who the principals are in the development group.

“I think it’s fair to say that’s not entirely clear to us,” said Martino.

The lottery is tasked with conducting background investigations of the key investors, owners and operators of groups seeking state gambling licenses before the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission awards the licenses.

Martino said the lottery has all the information it needs to finish the investigation of the Evitts Resorts LLC group seeking the Rocky Gap license.

Evitts proposed an 850-terminal facility and submitted a $2.1 million license fee in September. That group includes William Correa, head of Paragon Project Resources Inc., an engineering firm in Texas.

“I think we have probably slid into mid-February … to complete that investigation,” Martino said.