03/11/2009 11:00PM

Magna to appeal judge's casino decision

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Officials for Magna Entertainment Corp. said Thursday that the company will appeal a ruling by a Maryland judge that rejected the company's challenge to the state's casino licensing process.

Judge William C. Mulford of Anne Arundel Circuit Court ruled Wednesday that state officials were within their rights to disqualify the bid for a casino license made by Magna's Laurel Park because the company did not post a $28.5 million licensing fee associated with the bid. Mulford wrote in the ruling that the requirements were both "constitutional and lawful."

Magna had filed a challenge to the requirement after a Feb. 2 deadline for the bids had passed, contending that the state could not force companies to pay for the right to bid on a license unless there were provisions in place to refund the fees if the bids were not successful.

In a statement, Magna's attorney, Alan Rifkin, said that the company would appeal the ruling based on the company's opinion that the law was misleading to bidders.

"The court specifically noted that it had to look past the plain language of the statute to imply a refund right," Rifkin said. "That's contrary to the well-recognized rules of statutory construction. A reasonable bidder could only rely on the actual language in the statute, which did not permit a refund."

Under a referendum passed last November, Maryland plans to award five casino licenses in five locations in the state. Anne Arundel County is one of the locations, and another company, the real-estate development firm Cordish Cos., has also submitted a bid for a license there.

Magna filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Its two Maryland properties, Laurel Park and Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, are expected to be marketed to potential buyers.