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Arundel casino delay to cost state, county $120M

The Cordish Co's decision to abandon plans for a temporary casino will blow as much as a $120 million hole in the budgets next year for the state, Anne Arundel County and horse racing industry, The Sun's Nicole Fuller reports.

The Baltimore-based developer loses out on $59 million in its own profits, according to figures compiled by the state Department of Legislative Services. Company head David Cordish, who blames the delay on litigation by a jilted would-be slots developer, says he will focus on opening the first phase of the permanent structure at Arundel Mills mall by June 2012.  

The legislative agency also detailed how the delay affects others. State law prescribes how all slots revenue is to be split up. Here's the breakdown:

Loss to the state's education trust fund: $87 million (Gov. Martin O'Malley's aides say the figure drops to $70 million because the state won't need to purchase machines next fiscal year.) 
Loss to the horse racing industry: $17 million
Loss to the county: $10 million (though the county budget director says $8.1 million)
Loss to minority and women-owned business development fund: $3 million
Loss to the lottery agency: $4 million

State legislators and O'Malley officials say the state can absorb the loss through what it hopes are higher-than-expected revenue streams and, if necessary, by tapping the $43 million fund balance available next year.

Still, the Democratic governor and his aides had harsh words for Cordish, saying he broke his commitment to the state.

The horse racing industry -- which had hoped to build a casino at Laurel Park race track and was part of a lawsuit to stop Cordish's project at the mall -- says it can't afford to lose the anticipated slots money.

John Franzone, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, called Cordish's decision disappointing but understandable, Fuller reports.

"I can understand their rationale," said Franzone. "But right now, the loss of purse money is devastating, because we're surrounded on all sides in other states by table gaming. It's tough."

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