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Slots commission eyes late-April decision on Rocky Gap license and other gambling news

The state slots commission could decide on the licensee for the state’s fourth slots parlor this month.

The Video Lottery Terminal Location Commission will meet April 26, and could make a decision on the license for a slots parlor at Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort at that time.

A major hurdle was cleared last week when the Allegany County commissioners came to agreement on a payment in lieu of taxes with Evitts Resort LLC, the lone bidder for the license. Because the resort is in Rocky Gap State Park, the county cannot collect property taxes from tenants. The agreement calls for Evitts to pay the county the equivalent of what property taxes for the site would be.

All that remains is the completion of a lease agreement between Evitts, the Maryland Economic Development Corp., which owns the resort and the Maryland Department of Natural Resource, which owns Rocky Gap State Park.

Donald C. Fry, chairman of the slots commission, said he expected that lease agreement to be completed in the next week.

“I’d still believe we’re in a position to make a decision on Rocky Gap by the end of this month,” Fry said. “I think the Allegany County commissioners, them moving forward, is a significant step.

“We need to make sure the lease is ready to go. But you’ve got a lot of different players. We’re down to a couple of issues.”

The award for a Baltimore facility could take a bit longer, Fry said, though he expected the commission would make a decision on that license before the end of June. The Maryland State Lottery Agency is still working on its background check of a group led by Caesars Entertainment.

“My target date is still the end of the fiscal year,” Fry said.

Once those licenses are awarded and the facilities prepare marketing campaigns, they’ll be afforded a new opportunity: advertising with the Baltimore Ravens.

The NFL loosened its restrictions on casino ads last week, The Baltimore Sun reported, and teams likes the Ravens will now be able to run casino ads in its game programs, on some stadium signs and on local radio, should they choose.

Previously the ads were banned, so Maryland’s others facilities — in Perryville, Ocean Downs and soon in Arundel Mills — have not been able to directly reach the NFL population, thought to be a prime audience for gambling ads.

The NFL’s still not cool with teams running ads that promote betting on games — but slots are just fine.

“It’s important to note, however, that we are currently reviewing the NFL’s memo and considering our next steps,” Patrick Gleason, a Ravens spokesman, told The Sun. “As with any sponsorship opportunity, we will, of course, be cautious and comply with NFL guidelines.”