06/29/2010 12:00AM

Group to appeal Md. slots ruling


A coalition opposed to the building of a casino at a mall in Anne Arundel County, Md., will appeal a circuit court ruling invalidating its effort to overturn the casino's zoning approval through a referendum, an attorney for the group said Tuesday.

In a prepared statement, Alan Rifkin, who represents the coalition and the Maryland Jockey Club, said he believed that Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth erred when he ruled Friday that the zoning approval was part of the appropriations process of government and therefore could not be decided by voters by ballot.

"When the people voted in 2008 to allow slots facilities they did so with a clear understanding that those facilities were subject to all planning and zoning laws," Rifkin said. "There has been no appropriation of any revenue from a slots facility, yet the state would prevent [our referendum] from being placed on the ballot. We are confident, on appeal, [our referendum] will be approved for the ballot."

The developer of the casino, the Cordish Cos., challenged the validity of the ballot measure after the groups collected enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot. The Cordish Cos. last year won the license to operate the sole casino approved for Anne Arundel County.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Laurel Park and had its own application for the Anne Arundel license rejected by the state, provided the bulk of the funding to challenge the zoning approval. The Maryland Jockey Club is owned by MI Developments.

The rejection of the ballot measure would appear to have cleared the way for the Cordish Cos. to begin construction of the casino, but the appeal will hold that process up for several more months.