Monday, December 07, 2009

High Drama at Arundel Mills

The fate of a slot parlor development at the Arundel Mills mall will be decided today in two separate actions. This afternoon, the Maryland Slots Commission is expected to approve the location of a 4,750 slot machine parlor at the shopping complex in Hanover, Maryland. That may be putting the cart before the horse. The most significant decision will occur tonight when the Anne Arundel County Council will vote whether to approve a zoning change that would allow the parlor to locate there. A rejection of this zoning change would derail the project.

And I thought the Columbia Town Center zoning battle was contentious.

According to this story by Nicole Fuller and Laura Smitherman in The Sun, the vote could easily go either way.

“But even after nine months of wrestling with the issue, it is unclear how the local battle will end. Three of the seven council members say they aren't sure how they'll vote, and four "yes" votes are needed to move the billion-dollar project forward.

"What will happen Monday night is anybody's guess," said Council President Cathleen M. Vitale, who declined to say how she plans to vote.”

To further add to the drama surrounding this hot button issue, the council must render their decision before midnight tonight.

I’m just glad there won’t be a slots parlor in Howard County. Last year, before the referendum on slots, I came out against slots in this post and this column. One year later, it sure seems like the state legistlators claim that slots would save Maryland’s horse racing industry and bring in much needed revenue for the state was a sham. Jay Hanock summed the situation up nicely in this column he wrote in The Sun back in February.

“Legalizing slot machines was supposed to save Maryland horse tracks, help Maryland schools and keep the Preakness in Baltimore. That it might fail on all counts, in a kind of grotesque trifecta, is probably what everybody involved with it deserves.”