Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon said yesterday that the city might reject a proposed slots parlor near the Inner Harbor if the bidders' plan wouldn't produce enough revenue to fund "worthwhile" property tax reduction.
The newly formed Baltimore City Entertainment Group was the sole bidder for a license to create a slots venue in the city, offering to plan to put 500 machines on a parcel of land near M&T Bank Stadium.
City officials had anticipated reaping about $36 million a year by leasing property for a slots parlor, an estimate based on the assumption that a developer would install all 3,750 machines allowed on the site under state law. Dixon planned to put some of that money toward reducing city property taxes, but it's not clear that a 500 machine parlor would generate enough revenue to make that possible.
"If it doesn't meet the goals that we're trying to accomplish ... then there is a potential for us not to have it," Dixon said.
Eliminating the Baltimore site from the five allowed under Maryland law could seriously diminish the $600 million a year the state hopes to get from its slots program. The mayor wants to use revenue from the parlor to cut between 10 cents and 15 cents from the city's rate. Baltimore homeowners pay $2.268 per $100 of assessed value, a rate that is the highest in the state and more than twice that of Baltimore County. It costs the city $2.6 million in revenue to reduce the rate by one cent.
Dixon also said that she knew nothing about the bidder. "They didn't want us engaged and involved," Dixon said. "I haven't been so I haven't gotten involved in who is a part of the proposal or any of the nuances of the deal."
Baltimore City Entertainment Group was formed on Jan. 30 to "engage in the operation of various gaming and entertainment activities," according to state records.
Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.