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Week in review: 12/21/12

Casino licenses too cheap?

Maryland’s casino operators are licensed at a fraction of the fair market value for such an award, according to a report released Wednesday by policy analysts. The Maryland Public Policy Institute and Maryland Tax Education Foundation calculate that the Prince George’s County casino license approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Martin O’Malley in August and then by voters on Election Day, is worth almost $500 million. But the fee for that license is just $18 million, a figure determined by a simple formula that charges operators $3 million for every 500 slot machines they intend to operate. MGM Resorts International Inc., the prohibitive favorite to win a bid that would land a casino at National Harbor, wants to operate 3,000 slot machines at an $800 million facility at the luxury mixed-use development.

Caesars pledges that union labor will build casino

A Las Vegas gambling company with plans to build a casino in Baltimore said Tuesday that union labor will “absolutely” be used to build the facility. Caesars Entertainment Corp., which heads a group licensed to build a casino on Russell Street, said union leaders have no reason to fear being shut out of the project. “Any concern that Caesars Entertainment or its general contractor will not include union workers in the construction of Horseshoe Baltimore is unfounded,” a Caesars statement said. “The company has an established record of utilizing union workers in development projects nationwide, and we absolutely will have union workers on the job in Baltimore.”

DBED secretary leaving for post with Laureate

Maryland’s top economic development official is stepping down, the latest in a line of cabinet members and staff to announce recently that they are leaving the O’Malley administration for the more lucrative private sector. Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that Christian S. Johansson, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, will resign in mid-January. Deputy Secretary Dominick E. Murray will replace him. Johansson, DBED’s secretary since 2009, is leaving to join Baltimore-based Laureate Education Inc., formerly Sylvan Learning Systems Inc., where he will head a new group focused on university partnerships.

Mikulski expects to head Senate Appropriations

Adding to a lifetime of firsts, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., announced that she expects to become the first woman chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, succeeding Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, who died Monday. Mikulski’s announcement came after Sen. Patrick Leahy said he would remain as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee rather than take over the top slot on Appropriations. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be expected to follow the great leadership of Senator Inouye,” Mikulski said in a statement.

Nielsen buying Columbia’s Arbitron for $1.26 billion

In a move that would consolidate the country’s biggest trackers of television and radio ratings into a single company, Nielsen Holdings announced Tuesday it is buying Columbia-based Arbitron Inc. for about $1.26 billion. The $48-a-share offer is 26 percent higher than Arbitron’s closing price Monday. Excluding acquisition costs, the purchase will add about 13 cents to earnings per share in the year after it’s completed, Nielsen said in a statement. The New York-based company is financing the entire transaction.

Judge Brobst of Baltimore County, ex-state’s attorney, dies at 59

Baltimore County Circuit Judge S. Ann Brobst, known as the “personality of the state’s attorney’s office” when she was prosecuting some of the county’s biggest murder cases, died Monday. She was 59. Brobst, who served for 30 years in the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, died of pancreatic cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. Brobst was appointed to the bench in December 2009 by Gov. Martin O’Malley.