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Judge throws out appeals on Baltimore casino license

A circuit court judge for Baltimore has held that the State Board of Contract Appeals was correct to throw out a group’s challenge of the city casino license awarded last summer to a group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

The contracts board in September threw out the appeals of Harborwest Partners LLC and Baltimore City Entertainment Group LP — the firm led by Canadian homebuilder Michael Moldenhauer, which unsuccessfully bid to operate a city gambling site — saying at the time that neither firm had the right to appeal because they did not respond to a second request for proposals issued in April 2011.

Harborwest subsequently filed an appeal, but Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White ruled Wednesday that the firm was “not an ‘applicant’ or an ‘unsuccessful applicant’ and lacks standing to pursue his claims in this matter.”

Robert T. Fontaine, counsel for the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said Baltimore City Entertainment Group had not yet filed an appeal of the board’s decision.

In its original filing with the Board of Contract Appeals, Harborwest — formerly Charm City Development and Gaming LLC — said it would have bid for the Baltimore casino license in 2011 if it had known the General Assembly was going to allow table games and reduce the state’s 67 percent slots tax.

The legislature passed a bill in August that set the framework for both changes, and voters approved of that plan in November.

Harborwest, represented by William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr., the founding partner of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, argued that it was against the “best interests” of the state to award a license to CBAC in July when it was “public knowledge” that the legislature could change Maryland casino laws in August.

“If the applicable tax rate was reduced and/or table games were authorized, Harborwest would submit a proposal far more financially beneficial to the state than the proposal submitted by CBAC,” the appeal said.