Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold told the county's members of the House of Delegates Friday that anticipated slots revenue would likely stave off the need for public employee furloughs.

The county is expecting to receive about $15 million from a slots casino at Arundel Mills mall that is expected to open later this year, officials said. The county has furloughed its employees for up to 12 days for the past two years at a savings of $7.6 million annually as revenues have fallen.

"I never put anything in stone until I announce my budget," said Leopold a Republican, who is set to present the county's FY 2013 budget to the County Council in mid-April. "Hopefully, we'll be in a position where we don't have to do furloughs for three years in a row. That's one of my priorities."

Leopold said the possibility of ending furloughs "looks promising," although he cautioned that passage of certain action being floated in the General Assembly, such as an expected proposal to transfer the cost of teacher pensions to the counties at a cost of about $60 million to Anne Arundel, could change the situation.

The panel also discussed the possibility of introducing table games to either the state's five approved casino sites, or to a yet-to-be approved site in Prince George's — plans that will likely be debated during this year's legislative session.

Del. Ron George, a Republican chairman of the Arundel delegation and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he opposes adding table games to Arundel Mills.

"A lot of what helped slots pass in the first place were promises that it wouldn't expand," said George, who added that he would have concerns about any plans for a casino or table games in Prince George's, which would directly compete with the Arundel Mills casino.

"We have to look at the whole picture," he said. "Not just county by county."

Joseph Weinberg, president of development at the Cordish Cos., which is developing the $1 billion slots and entertainment complex on the parking lot of the mall, said table games would be an "enhancement" to the Arundel Mills site. He added that the existing casino sites should be considered for table games.

"Very clearly it's a big part of our market area," said Weinberg. "When the original bill was done, the Arundel casino was chosen to serve the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas. Very clearly, the existing casinos should be the only ones considered. To even think of another facility in the market and given the investment we've made, is really not fair and proper."

The casino is expected to open at 60 percent operating capacity in June with the full 4,750 slots up and running in November, officials said.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts