06/10/2009 12:00AM

Laurel seeks new slots bidding

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Lawyers for Laurel Park asked Maryland s highest court Tuesday to restore its disqualified proposal for a slots casino license and later suggested that the state would be better off restarting a bidding process that has fallen short of expectations.

A slots license selection commission tossed out a bid from Laurel in February because the track did not submit $28.5 million in mandatory licensing fees. The track, which is owned by bankrupt Magna Entertainment Corp., argued in appeals court Tuesday that it was concerned that there was no guarantee it would get the money back if it didn t win a license.

Alan M. Rifkin, a lawyer for Laurel Racing Association, told reporters outside the courthouse that the best outcome would be to reopen bidding with the understanding that licensing fees would be refundable.

Rifkin said more bidders would emerge and likely pledge to build bigger casinos if uncertainty surrounding licensing fees were dispelled.

The state received bids this year for fewer than half of 15,000 machines envisioned by lawmakers as revenue-raisers.

Austin C. Schlick, an assistant attorney general, said Laurel could have raised its legal concerns before the bidding deadline and now is seeking special treatment.