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No special meeting for gaming panel; Cordish-Penn National deal likely not imminent

The Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will not hold a special meeting this week, suggesting that a potential deal between a pair of casino operators is not imminent.

Hollywood Casino Perryville

Hollywood Casino Perryville

The commission went into a closed session during its monthly meeting last week to discuss the potential deal, which reports have suggested involve Wyomissing, Pa.-based Penn National Gaming Inc. buying a significant stake in The Cordish Cos.’ Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall.

Lottery officials said last week a special commission meeting could be convened this week to consider the sale if a deal was reached. The commission, which oversees traditional lottery and casino operations in Maryland, must approve any change in facility ownership.

If Penn National were to buy a stake greater than 5 percent in the Maryland Live Casino, it would have to find a buyer for its Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County. The facility, the state’s first casino, has lost more than one-quarter of its business since Maryland Live opened in June.

Penn National is also busy fighting Question 7 on Maryland’s Nov. 6 election ballot. If voters approve Question 7, table games such as blackjack would be allowed at every state casino, and companies could bid on a casino license for Prince George’s County.

The Pennsylvania gambling company owns the lucrative Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, W.Va., and expects that facility to take a financial hit if a casino is built at National Harbor near Oxon Hill. MGM Resorts International Inc. appears to have the inside track at operating such a facility.

Penn National previously wanted to operate a casino at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, also in Prince George’s County, but company executives have said they believe the deck is stacked in favor of MGM and National Harbor.

The company has spent more than $18 million to prevent the gambling expansion, while proponents — including MGM and Caesars Entertainment Corp. — have combined to spend more than $16 million to support the referendum.