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State to extend bid deadline for city slots license

** Update - Slots commission extended Baltimore deadline by 2 months **

Maryland's slots commission convened a meeting on short notice to decide whether to give Baltimore developers an additional two months to hand in their casino proposals, adding yet another twist to the long-delayed project.

The commissioners are discussing the matter in closed session now.

The idea is under consideration on the same day that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is rolling out her plans to spend the slots revenue. She wants to put most of the money toward reducing city property taxes by nine percent. It is unclear how much the delay -- it if occurs -- will impact her plan.

Robert Howells, with the State Lottery Agency, said during the meeting that his office needs more time to answer questions from potential Baltimore casino developers. He characterized their inquiries as "very technical" and "very thoughtful."

"It is difficult to cut off questions," Howells said, noting that he is aware that is answers may affect whether some groups decide to bid.

Developers for the Baltimore project are supposed to turn in their plans by next Thursday. A delay would likely put the due date after the Baltimore mayoral primary, eliminating any potential embarrassment should bids fail to materialize.

Baltimore developer Patrick Turner attended the meeting with his business partner Jim Seay, who owns Premier Rides and recently traveled to Asia with Gov. Martin O'Malley. The pair declined to comment.
Separately, potential bidders for the Rocky Gap casino in Western Maryland met this morning. Howells said there were about a dozen entities represented at the meeting.  

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