09/28/2011 4:00PM

Stronach, Caesars partner on Baltimore casino


The Stronach Group, the private company that owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland, has joined with Caesars Entertainment and a slew of other investors in an application to build and operate a casino in Baltimore.

The application was filed last week in a bid for one of two remaining casino licenses in Maryland. Caesars Entertainment would be the “lead investor and facility manager” of the casino, according to a statement from the company. The application is seeking approval for 3,750 machines, the maximum for the Baltimore site under a law initially passed in 2008 allowing for a total of 15,000 slot machines at five sites in Maryland.

Although voters approved the licenses in a referendum three years ago, the Baltimore license and the license for a site in Western Maryland have not been awarded because the sites have not attracted qualified applicants, according to the state lottery, which administers the license approval process.

It was unclear how large a stake the Stronach Group has in the project. Officials for the company did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

The Caesar’s application includes 30 principals. The Stronach Group was one of three other groups named in the statement along with CVPR Gaming Holdings, a real-estate development group headed by Baltimore developer Theo C. Rodgers; and Rock Gaming, a partner with Caesar’s in two casinos under development in Ohio.

Along with the unspecified equity share, the Stronach Group would benefit from the Baltimore casino because racetracks in Maryland receive a share of the revenues from state casinos for purse and operating subsidies. Under current projections, those subsidies could total approximately $75 million annually.

Lawmakers tweaked the legislation allowing for casinos early in 2011 to attract applicants for the two remaining licenses. The changes awarded the operating companies a larger share of casino revenues, at the expense of the state.

The Stronach Group was formed earlier this year to hold the racing and gambling assets formerly owned by MI Developments Inc., a publicly traded company that had previously applied for one of the gambling licenses, for Laurel Park. The application was rejected because MI Developments did not include a $22.5 million licensing fee. The Stronach Group also owns Santa Anita Park in California; Gulfstream Park, an adjoining casinos, and the training yard Palm Meadows in Florida; the account-wagering company XpressBet; and a half-share in the horseracing television network HRTV, among other assets.