03/05/2010 12:00AM

More Maryland signatures submitted


A racetrack-backed coalition in Maryland that is seeking to overturn zoning approvals for a casino on Friday submitted 16,700 signatures to the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections in its effort to force the approval to a local vote, the group said.

The signatures submitted Friday, the deadline for the petition effort, brings the total number of signatures submitted to the board to just more than 40,000. A total of 18,790 verified signatures are needed to put the issue on the ballot. The board of elections has certified 13,136 signatures from the coalition's earlier submission, according to the board's website.

The coalition is almost entirely funded by the Maryland Jockey Club, a wholly owned subsidiary of Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns and operates Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County and Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Magna is attempting to block the construction of the casino in order to sustain the possibility that Laurel could receive a casino license. Current law allows only one casino in Anne Arundel.

Magna filed for bankruptcy in March, 2009. It is currently marketing Laurel and Pimlico to potential buyers, and the tracks are scheduled to go to auction late in March.

The developer of the casino, the Cordish Cos., sued the board of elections in February, claiming that the board ignored irregularities in the signatures that had earlier been submitted to the board. In response, the petition organizers lodged complaints to the board saying that people who had signed the petition had been targeted for harassment.