Slots in Maryland – Other Locations

Posted on November 12, 2007


UPDATE 08-16-2008 — BLOB’S PARK

The recently closed Blob’s Park dancehall in Jessup has popped up on the radar screen as a possible alternative to slots at the Laurel Race Course. Both the racetrack and the shuttered polka dancehall are located between I-95 and I-295  in Anne Arundel County. Both are within two miles of I-295 (better known to locals as the Baltimore-Washington Parkway), so both meet the siting criterion in the proposed constitutional amendment up for referendum in November.

Laurel Race Course is near the Route 198 exit off the BW Parkway, and Blob’s Park is two exits north, visible from the parkway, at the Route 75 exit, making it two exits closer to BWI Airport. But both locations are very close to Fort Meade, too close for those who object to a gambling casino in proximity to a military base and national security facility.

The large dancehall could accommodate many slot machines quickly, without major renovation, a plus for politicians wanting to get slots revenue rolling in ASAP. Blob’s also would not entangle the state with the international gambling company that runs the race track. Kitchen and bar facilities are in place at Blob’s, along with a large parking lot, and plenty of room for expansion.

And maybe a Blob’s Park casino could bring back the polka bands and dancing. A polka-themed slots casino, now that’s an intriguing idea. — End of 08-16-2008 update

Gov. Martin O’Malley has proposed slots at five locations in Maryland (see Slots in Maryland – Location, Location, Location).

(As of Thursday morning (11-15-07), the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee wanted a slots casino near I-70 in Frederick County. The logic is that this would serve a large customer base of Montgomery County residents who travel to play slots at Charles Town, W.Va. The Frederick site would replace O’Malley’s proposed site at Ocean Downs. But it’s possible that both Frederick and Ocean Downs could end up in a House-Senate compromise. The House also proposed to add Harford County, along with Cecil County, as a possible location of the I-95 casino designed to capture slots traffic going to Delaware.)

Other potential sites:

The very last paragraph in Monday morning’s Washington Post report on the General Assembly Special Session has this cryptic sentence: “Among the alternatives being pushed by lobbyists engaged in the debate is a Baltimore County site.”

There are two possible sites in Baltimore County, where voters generally support slot machines in Maryland.

  • White Marsh, near the I-95 exit in northeast Baltimore County.
  • The Timonium Fairgrounds, conveniently located on I-83, north of Towson. This large site is mostly undeveloped, has an existing horse-racing track, and is served by two exits, Timonium Road and Padonia Road.

There’s Rosecroft Raceway in Prince Georges County, but I think the county delegation is strong enough to nix that idea. (As of Thursday, Rosecroft is off the table.)

The interchange of I-70 and I-81, southwest of Hagerstown in Washington County, offers interesting possibilities for a destination casino. Washington County has long wanted to boost tourism.

I will be surprised if the Ocean Downs site in Worcester County is endorsed by the Assembly. It’s too close to Ocean City. That’s why legislators are looking for at least one other site.

At the other end of the state, there doesn’t seem to be much opposition to slots at Rocky Gap in Allegany County.

Just a few sites to ponder. — Bernie Hayden