Representatives of the group that wants to offer slot machines in Arundel Mills Mall sought on September 9th, 2009 to counter arguments that its planned slots facility would only increase the crime rate and traffic and faced serious questions about its inability to acquire local zoning approval for the slots casino project.
Joe Weinberg, a principal with Baltimore-based Cordish Co., told the state commission that is expected to decide whether to award a license to offer 4,750 slot machines at the Anne Arundel County mall this fall that this will be one of the great gaming locations in the US. Weinberg faced off at a hearing against homeowners who were not in favor of the group’s proposal to construct its freestanding live-brand slots facility in a parking area near the entrance of the food court of the mall.
Dan Donovan, who lives 2 miles from the Arundel Mills Mall, said that the group should look for other alternative locations. The casino facility, which is scheduled to open in 2011, would be the biggest of five slots locations allowed last fall by Maryland state voters. Cordish’s slots casino proposal is also controversial due to the fact that it became the only pending slots bid after the state commission disqualified Laurel Park’s bid last February 2009.
State legislation compels local governments to give their approval to each casino facility, which are projected to earn hundreds of million dollars annually for the state government. Zoning legislations needed to construct the casino in Anne Arundel languished for several months at the County Council before County Executive John R. Leopold pulled it in July 2009. The council president stated that she has no intention of restarting talks until the state commission decides whether the parking area in the mall is a good site.
At Wednesday night’s hearing, commission member and former state legislator Robert R. Neall said that it is unthinkable to change the process and they should do it the right way. The chairman of 7-member commission, Donald C. Fry, said that they would have preferred to see the action of the City Council first. He added that it might be possible to give Cordish a slots license contingent on zoning later on.
In a location visit at the Arundel Mills mall and at the commission hearing, Weinberg promoted his group’s reputation for constructing excellent gaming facilities. He also said that the Anne Arundel slots facility will provide four thousand construction and operations jobs.
Weinberg stated that residents should not be worried about the increase in crime rate since the gamers usually came from an educated background and have big incomes. He also said that the security at the facility will also be heavy to prevent anyone younger than 21 years old from coming in.