02/06/2009 12:00AM

Maryland slots process faulted

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The president of Maryland's state senate, Thomas V. Mike Miller, on Thursday called on the state commission evaluating applications to operate slot machines to consider tossing out all bids and starting over.

The previous week's bidding process had resulted in six proposals to install fewer than half of the 15,000 slot machines authorized by voters last fall. Two of the six bidders, including Laurel Park's owner, Magna Entertainment Corp., failed to put up more than $20 million in required licensing fees.

"I have to believe that the bidding process at the present time is in disarray and that someone needs to analyze the problems with the bidding process apart from the economy," said Miller.

The proposals fall far short of the number of machines needed to generate the more than $600 million annually in state revenue that had been projected.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said scrapping the proposals could tarnish the state's relationship with the business community.

"Why would anyone respect the process any longer?" he said. "Everybody had the same opportunity."