Gov. Martin O'Malley reiterated in an interview this week that the County Council must act. "They need to make their decision, whatever that decision is," he said. "We need to move forward."

Meanwhile, the Baltimore group has not turned over key information on its principals to the lottery commission, and hasn't updated its February application for a 500-slot parlor.

Members of the group have said they want to build a 3,750-terminal facility in a different location than the one in the original application, which would require new paperwork and a much larger licensing fee.

They hinted more recently that they would like to expand to 4,750 if possible.

Neall compared the Baltimore situation to "painting a merry-go-round with the horses going up and down."

"There are changes that they say are being made, but that we haven't seen, and there hasn't been as much on background and financial information as we need," said Neall, a former Arundel county executive and state senator known for his fiscal acumen, after the commission meeting. "Who are the real operators and investors? We have no idea."

Representatives from Baltimore City Entertainment Group defended their slots application, saying they needed to lock down details with the city before addressing the state's concerns.

Mystery investor
Michael Moldenhauer, a Canadian homebuilder who has a 93 percent stake in the casino, said his group plans to meet with state officials next week to work out a process for submitting the fee and a new application.

Moldenhauer said he felt that his group "needed to reach an agreement with Baltimore" before moving forward with the amended proposal. "We didn't want to be presumptuous," he said. "This has been a complicated and lengthy process."

The city's Board of Estimates approved a land deal to allow the casino to go forward earlier Wednesday, a complex transaction that requires the casino operator to pay 2.99 percent of gross gaming revenues to the city in return for building on city land.

City officials also defended the process.

"Negotiating the land deal with the city consumed BCEG's attention for the last several months," said Baltimore First Deputy Mayor Andrew B. Frank. "Now BCEG can turn its attention to meeting the commission's requirements within the deadline imposed."

Wednesday's land deal included a list of four partners in the project and left open the possibility that a fifth, unnamed entity would join the group. Moldenhauer declined to reveal the identity of the mystery investor.

Sun reporters Annie Linskey, Nicole Fuller and Laura Smitherman contributed to this article.