Jennifer Kulczycki, a spokeswoman for Rock Gaming, said the company was concerned about some ambiguity in Maryland's rules. While she declined to discuss specifics of what the company wanted, Kulczycki said the issue "was resolved and we were able to move forward."
Gilbert was not made available for an interview.
Kulczycki declined to comment on Gilbert's 1981 arrest, saying the company is subject to ongoing background checks in Maryland and Ohio, where a similar partnership between Rock Gaming and Caesars plans two new casinos.
In past interviews, Gilbert, the founder of online retail mortgage lender Quicken Loans, has played down the seriousness of the arrest. He has noted that it was 30 years ago and has said that no money was exchanged — an account at odds with law enforcement officials.
Dueling versions of events that emerged two years ago during a campaign over an Ohio ballot measure on gambling remain on YouTube.
In one video, a retired Michigan state trooper who says he was involved in Gilbert's arrest explains how he posed as the father of a student who claimed to have more than $1,000 in gambling debt and said he had been threatened by Gilbert's ring. The retired trooper, John Fiedler, says Gilbert was arrested after Fiedler paid off his "son's" debt.
Gilbert can be seen at a public forum, acknowledging his arrest and saying the matter was later dropped. In response to a question, Gilbert says gambling licenses should be denied for "probably murder, rape, extortion of funds, larceny, you know, things like that."
Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland State Lottery Agency, said his office first heard Rock Gaming's concerns this summer, when media accounts suggested several groups were considering applying for the Baltimore license but none was certain to bid.
"It's fair to say there was probably some discussion and some urgency in resolving this to clarify whether they were willing or able to bid and build the Baltimore casino," Martino said.
Martino said it is not unusual for his agency to hear from parties it regulates. He said the agency has an "open-door policy" and has been willing to change regulations if businesses suggest "an approach that still meets our high standards but puts less of a burden on them."
Fontaine said he was first approached by Lloyd D. Levenson, an Atlantic City-based lawyer. Fontaine said his recollection is that Levenson at first asked about existing regulations on behalf of a potential bidder whom he did not identify. Gilbert's name and situation did not come up until later, Fontaine said.
Levenson, whose clients include Rock Gaming, referred a call about the matter to Kulczycki.
The regulation on past offenses had been in place since early 2009 and was used by a separate state panel to evaluate the bids of three applicants who have been awarded slots licenses, including the company building Maryland's largest casino at Arundel Mills mall.
When first adopted, Maryland's regulations were modeled upon New Jersey law. That state's law explicitly disqualifies applicants for slots licenses if they have past gambling offenses, even if an offense was not prosecuted. The New Jersey law makes no distinction regarding where the offense took place.
A Sept. 15 memo prepared by Fontaine for commissioners acknowledged there was "ambiguity" in the Maryland regulation regarding offenses that take place outside the state and do not result in a conviction.
Because of different wording in that section, Fontaine concluded that Maryland's regulation could be interpreted more narrowly and be challenged by an unsuccessful applicant. He suggested some options for clarification.
The 10-year "look-back" period adopted a week later by the commission for out-of-state offenses was not among those. Fowler said that language was adopted after he sought information on rules in other states, several of which have similar "look-back" provisions.
Fontaine said the commission's action does not prevent regulators from considering incidents that took place out of state more than 10 years ago — but unless there has been a conviction, such actions do not automatically disqualify a bidder.