07/19/2009 11:00PM

Court won't hear Laurel slots case

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Maryland's highest court ruled on Monday that it lacks the jurisdiction to hear arguments over whether the state erred in rejecting a bid by Magna Entertainment Corp. for slot machines at its Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County.

Instead, the Court of Appeals ruled that Magna could seek a judgment on the issue in court only after it has exhausted all of its appeals through Maryland's administrative agencies, including a review by the State Board of Contract Appeals of any decision by the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission.

Magna filed suit against the location commission after that regulatory body tossed out its bid for 4,750 slot machines at Laurel because the company did not include $28.5 million in licensing fees.

In front of the court, Magna's lawyers had argued that they did not include the fees because of questions over the whether the fees could be refunded if the bid was unsuccessful. In its bid, however, Magna wrote that it couldn't pay the fee because of "market conditions."

The Court of Appeals ruling means that Magna must first argue its case before the State Board of Contract Appeals. Only a decision by that board can be challenged in court.

In a statement, the Maryland Jockey Club reiterated that it believed that the "bid process was flawed." The statement also said that the MJC "remains hopeful that the state will clarify and address the uncertainties in the statute that gave rise to the decision."

The Video Lottery Facility Location Commission is expected to issue licenses this fall. The only bidder for a license in Anne Arundel County is the Cordish Cos. The law establishing slot machines limits licenses in Anne Arundel to a single operator.