07/21/2010 12:02PM

Maryland appeals court wants casino on ballot


The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that a referendum asking voters to approve a casino near a mall in Anne Arundel County should be placed on the ballot after all.

The three-judge court reversed a decision last month by a Maryland circuit court to disqualify the referendum from the November ballot. The appeal of the circuit-court decision had been filed by groups opposed to the building of the casino, including the Maryland Jockey Club, the owner of nearby Laurel Park.

The Circuit Court had ruled that zoning approvals to the casino project that were granted by the Anne Arundel City Council were part of the appropriations process and could not be decided by voters. However, the Court of Appeals, the highest court in Maryland, rejected that conclusion in its Tuesday ruling.

The developer of the casino, the Cordish Cos., received a license to build the casino in 2009, and the project received zoning approval earlier this year. Following the zoning approvals, the opposition groups, which are being almost entirely funded by the Maryland Jockey Club, led a petition drive to support the referendum.

The casino has been authorized for 4,750 slots. Laurel Park had also submitted an application for the single casino license available in Anne Arundel County, but the track’s application was rejected because the Maryland Jockey Club failed to include a $27.5 million license fee.