Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Week in review: 11/16/12

Tables in, slots out

An army of analysts produced stacks of studies this summer, each calculating slightly different numbers but coming to the same conclusion: More casino gambling would mean more money for Maryland. But maybe not quite as much as anticipated. At least two Maryland casinos are saying that they may remove some heavily taxed slot machines from their gambling floors to make room for more lightly taxed table games. Overall, net casino revenue should still increase, said Warren G. Deschenaux, director of the state Office of Policy Analysis. But when a table game replaces a slot machine, some of that increase may be negated.

St. Joseph hospital sale expected to close by Dec. 1

The three parties involved in the sale of St. Joseph Medical Center to the University of Maryland Medical System said the deal is expected to close on Dec. 1. St. Joseph board members and the hospital’s current owner, Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, announced Wednesday that regulatory papers had been filed with the Federal Trade Commission and other regulatory agencies and were pending final approval, expected by the end of the month. At that time, the transfer of assets of St. Joseph to UMMS is expected to take place, an announcement from UMMS officials said.

Group proposes raising cigarette tax $1 per pack

Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative is proposing another dollar-per-pack increase to the state’s current $2 cigarette tax. The cigarette tax has been raised three times in the last 15 years and has coincided with a 32 percent drop in cigarette smoking during that time, which is double the national average. A Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids study estimates that the proposed tax increase would raise roughly $100 million annually in state revenue. The campaign also estimates the increase would lead to an 11 percent decrease in youth smoking.

More water main breaks start week in Baltimore

Monday mornings are often a bit rough, and this week in particular, Baltimore infrastructure was off to a pretty bumpy start. Just a few days after crews had repaired the major water main break at East 20th and North Charles streets, another large pipe burst on East Madison Street, near Guilford Avenue. As with last week’s incident, the streets were heavily flooded, dismayed business owners worried about slumped sales and traffic was again snarled. Several streets were closed for at least a period of the morning, including Madison, Fallsway, Guilford and a ramp leading to Guilford from the Jones Falls Expressway. Later in the day, a main on Philadelphia Road at Rossville Boulevard burst, affecting about 60 homes and 15 businesses.

Capital Beltway express lanes set to open Saturday

A 14-mile expansion project that created express lanes to allow drivers who are willing to pay a potentially steep toll to travel swiftly along the Capital Beltway is set to open Saturday. The Interstate 495 express lanes — two northbound and two southbound — supplement the existing eight lanes on a portion of the Virginia side of the Beltway. The lanes were built under a deal in which developers paid roughly 80 percent of the project’s $2 billion cost, with public funds covering the rest. The companies will recoup the money through tolls. If the toll money exceeds projections, the state of Virginia will also get a share.

Ocean City’s fishing pier to be rebuilt, mayor says

Ocean City’s iconic fishing pier, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, will be rebuilt in time for the summer 2013 season. By the time the clouds parted after the Oct. 29-30 storm, a large section of the battered pier had disappeared. Some pilings were left standing but have been removed so as not to imperil boats, according to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. The pier’s franchise holder, Charles R. “Buddy” Jenkins, already has committed to rebuilding the pier, according to Meehan.

Buyer signs contract to purchase Wisp Resort

EPT Ski Properties Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., signed a contract to buy the Wisp Resort in Garrett County for $20.5 million. The current owner filed for bankruptcy reorganization in October 2011. If the bankruptcy court in Greenbelt agrees with the schedule, other bids will be due Nov. 29, followed by an auction on Nov. 30 and a hearing for approval of sale on Dec. 4.