Appeals court rejects casino developer's Baltimore bid

A Canadian developer whose bid to build a slots casino in Baltimore was dismissed last year has been rebuffed again by a state appeals court.

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge Robert A. Zarnoch wrote Monday that developer Michael Moldenhauer's Baltimore City Entertainment Group — which had appealed a decision by the state gambling commission — was "an unsatisfactory bidder." It was not in the "best interests of the state" to award a license to a company that planned to install only 500 video lottery terminals, he wrote.

"Because the commission was permitted to award only one license for Baltimore City, and was constitutionally obligated to raise as much revenue as possible, it would obviously be in the best interests of the state to find a bidder who could have in place the maximum number of [machines], something BCEG was clearly unable to do," Zarnoch wrote.

Zarnoch cited a "series of delays and unfulfilled promises" by the company.

"We disagree with the decision and are giving serious thought to instructing our attorneys to file an appeal," Moldenhauer wrote in an email, responding to the ruling.

In 2009, the company was the sole bidder on the city slots project, which was designed to allow 3,750 machines. The city accepted the proposal but later reversed course after Moldenhauer was turned down for a state slots license in June 2011.

The state slots commission said Moldenhauer had missed deadlines and did not appear to have the financial means to pull off the project. Moldenhauer said he received a commitment for $50 million from an investment firm just before his license application was denied.

A Baltimore City circuit judge upheld the state board's license denial.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., the world's largest casino operator, applied last year for a license to run the slots parlor proposed for Russell Street in Baltimore. The location drew another bidder, Baltimore City Casino LLC, but that company did not submit the required $22.5 million initial license fee and was disqualified, state slots commission Chairman Donald C. Fry said in September.

Maryland voters approved slots facilities for five locations in the state, including the newest casino, Maryland Live, which opened last week at Arundel Mills mall. Officials are now also considering a sixth slots parlor, in Prince George's County.

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