An Anne Arundel County judge pulled the plug Thursday on the gambling operation at a Chesapeake Beach bar, but said the Crooked I Sports Bar & Grill can try to restore its mini-casino when the case goes to trial.

Judge Philip T. Caroom denied the Crooked I's request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed its 105 slots-like machines to continue operating until its case is tried. Caroom said he will file an opinion Friday.

The business is challenging a new state law that would end its lucrative gambling business. In a lengthy complaint, it contends that the new law allows other small Southern Maryland gambling venues to remain open, while the Crooked I's mini-casino would have to close.

The Crooked I makes 95 percent of its revenue from the electronic gambling devices, according to its lawsuit.

"They're now going to have to evaluate what they can do in light of the order. That's going to be a business decision for them, as to whether they can try to make a go of it without the machines," said Jonathan P. Kagan, one of the Crooked I's attorneys.

Asked if the lawsuit would be dropped, he said, "certainly not."

An appeal of Caroom's decision is also a possibility, he said. "We need to see the court's opinion and rationale. We will evaluate our options for appeal."

Four gambling venues in Chesapeake Beach and three bingo halls in Anne Arundel County were supposed to close July 1, under a provision adopted by the General Assembly in 2009.

However, state lawmakers passed a measure this year that effectively kept the mini-casinos open, except for the Crooked I's. Technically, the others' machines don't qualify as slots under the law. Legislators decided that the Crooked I's machines were too similar to slot machines.

The business sued, and maintains that there's barely a difference among the machines. Caroom granted a temporary restraining order on June 29 and held further hearings in recent days.

The attorney general's office, which represented state officials, declined to comment "due to pending legal proceedings." Pending at the Court of Special Appeals are appeals by the state of earlier rulings Caroom made in the case.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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