Canadian auto parts and horse racing magnate Frank Stronach had sought a license to operate slot machines at Laurel Park. But he was disqualified from bidding when his then company, Magna Entertainment, failed to pay required license fees.
Belinda Stronach, Stronach Group's president and chief executive officer, who is Frank Stronach's daughter, is listed as a principal under the Caesars bid. Frank Stronach is the company's chairman. The Stronach Group did not return a phone call.
John Franzone, a longtime member of the Maryland Racing Commission, said he hopes that Stronach's involvement with the Baltimore casino improves the prospects for a downtown racetrack.
The head of Stronach's track business told the racing commission in July that the company wants to build a modern facility to better highlight the Preakness Stakes, which now is run at Pimlico. Greg Avioli said downtown Baltimore is a strong possibility for a new racetrack.
Other investors associated with the Caesars bid include Bronfein, a co-founder of NeighborCare who now runs Remedi SeniorCare in Rosedale; Theo Rodgers, a Baltimore developer known for urban projects; and Deering, the former chief executive of the Rouse Co., which sold itself to General Growth Properties, the operator of Harborplace and other Baltimore area malls.
The three investors did not return a call or could not be reached to comment.
A second Baltimore City bidder, Baltimore City Casino LLC, did not submit the required $22.4 million license fee and is likely to be disqualified, officials said.
Of the three bids for Rocky Gap, the best-known is by Nathan Landow, a former Democratic state chairman who tried unsuccessfully to buy bankrupt Rosecroft Raceway. Landow had planned to lobby for slots at the Prince George's County harness track.
The other bidders include Evitts Resort LLC, whose investors include Paragon Project Resources in Dallas, and a partnership between Allegany Entertainment Group and Potts Gaming LLC.
After two rounds of bidding failed to produce an applicant for Rocky Gap, officials sweetened the deal, waiving some fees and lowering the tax rate from 67 percent to 50 percent.
Hollywood Casino Perryville, the state's first casino, celebrated its one-year anniversary this week.
The casino at Ocean Downs, on the Eastern Shore near Ocean City, opened in January.
The Perryville facility has generated $101 million in gross revenue, which represents money taken in by the 1,500 machines after winners are paid out.
That means the casino averaged about $199 daily per machine, about 5 percent less than the $210 average the state had projected.
Still, owner Penn National says the facility has met the company's expectations. The casino posted an operating profit of $6.8 million for the first six months of 2011, according to financial statements filed by Penn National.
"We've been pleased with the performance at the Perryville property and when we look at our revenue over the past year, it's been right at what we expected," said John Finamore, senior vice president of regional operations.
Bill Hayles, Perryville's general manager, said the casino's first year has provided a window into the rhythm of the business. He said June, for example, was a slow month because of activities such as proms, graduations and weddings, while Sundays during the football season were quieter.
Hayles said the casino has attracted most of its customers from Baltimore, Cecil and Harford counties. The facility also draws motorists along Interstate 95.
Because the casino is a smaller venue than the larger, resort-style gambling facilities Penn National operates in neighboring states, Hayles said, it has been easier to get to know customers and create more of a "family" environment.
As the Perryville facility enters its second year, officials expect competition to heat up. The Arundel Mills casino is on track to open partially by June 2012.
Finamore, the Penn National executive, said the company is still evaluating how the new casino would affect Perryville.
But the reality, he said, is "there's a lot of competition in the Mid-Atlantic region, whether it's Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware or Maryland."