A.G.'s office will work quickly on Cecil slots inquiry

The office of state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said Friday it would work “expeditiously” to provide legal guidance to state regulators inquiring into allegations that Penn National Gaming inappropriately interfered with another company’s plans for a slots casino in Anne Arundel County.

Penn National has approval to open the state’s first slots parlor later this month in Cecil County, but says it might wait for the results of the inquiry before it cuts any ribbons. Penn National co-owns the Maryland Jockey Club, which has financed a campaign against Cordish’s proposed project, in hopes of steering Anne Arundel’s sole slots license to Laurel race track.

“We understand there’s an urgency to this decision so we will try to accommodate it,” said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

The request, from Stephen L. Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery, asks the attorney general to issue a ruling on whether Penn National’s actions violate the RFP, and if so, can the lottery commission take action, said Guillory.

Representatives for Penn National have said the inquiry could delay the planned Sept. 30 opening of its 1,500-slots parlor in Perryville, saying they wanted to await the opinion before moving forward, but declined Friday to offer specifics about the timeline of the casino’s opening.

"We're still assessing all of our options," said Karen M. Bailey, a spokeswoman for Penn National.The state Lottery Commission voted at its Thursday meeting to request an opinion from the attorney general following Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. claims that Penn National’s involvement in a campaign to prevent slots at Arundel Mills mall violates Penn National’s contract with the state.

The commission also approved a conditional license for Penn National to open its casino. A Penn National executive requested that the commission forgo issuing the license until the allegations were settled, but the commission declined.

Anne Arundel voters will decide whether the project slots at Arundel Mills go forward when they vote on a ballot referendum in November.

-Nicole Fuller

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