Thursday, February 4, 2010


February 5, 2010


 “Opposition To Slots At The Mall “overwhelming”

Rob Annicelli, spokesperson for “Stop Slots at Arundel Mills” reported today that his group, whose forces were joined by the Maryland Jockey Club, had secured substantially more than the 9,500 signatures necessary to meet the February 5 deadline set by the elections board.

The Press Release Follows:

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 4, 2010) –  A coalition of petitioners submitted over 23,000 signatures to the Anne Arundel Board of Elections this afternoon in support of a referendum to allow county citizens to vote on whether to permit the state’s largest slots casino at the Arundel Mills Mall. The signatures submitted today far exceed the interim requirement of 9,395 signatures needed by Feb. 5 and surpass the 18,790 signatures ultimately required to place the zoning ordinance on the ballot in November. 

 “Without question, there is overwhelming opposition by Anne Arundel County citizens to placing a casino at Arundel Mills Mall,” said Rob Annicelli, President of the citizens group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills. “The mall is not the right location for a slots casino and is not in the best interests of the citizens of Anne Arundel County. I would like to thank the volunteers and ask them to continue to collect signatures until the Board of Elections certifies the petition question.”

 “People are voting with their signatures. They want the zoning ordinance on the ballot,” said Heather Ford, Coalition Coordinator for Citizens Against Slots at the Mall. “Despite bad weather and attempts to block our efforts, we know we will have more than enough validated petition signatures by the time we are done to place the zoning question on the November ballot.”

 According to Tom Chuckas, President of the Maryland Jockey Club, “We are confident, that if given the choice, the people of Anne Arundel County will choose a more appropriate location for 4,750 slot machines that will benefit our county, our state and the thousands of jobs in the horse racing industry.”

End of Press Release

Meeting this deadline would have given signature collectors another 30 days, or until Monday, March 7, to reach the goal of 19,000 signatures.  But as over 23,000 were secured, the final deadline is moot.

How American for two normally opposed groups to form an alliance to acheive a goal that will benefit both parties.  Rob Annicelli and his activists don’t want slots in their neighborhood.  They don’t want the additional traffic, or the strain on fire and police departments.  The did everything good citizens can do to protest the Arundel Mills slots location, and were ignored by their County Council.

Many in Maryland racing were appalled at the idea of the slots going to a shopping mall instead of at the customary, expected location of the racetracks.  Racing fans wondered why, if the State of Maryland and its counties wanted to earn slots gambling money from lucrative Northern Virginia, they couldn’t see that Laurel was a far more accessible location to Virginians than Arundel Mills.  And closer to Washington, DC, as well.

Since Laurel, Maryland, is already a high density area and Anne Arundel Mills is not, more open space and farm land would be lost by the Anne Arundel Mills development. Laurel has two major highways that access it -- the Baltimore Washington Parkway, and I95.

It just makes sense, many thought, to have the slots at the racetracks.  

Perhaps the biggest concern of all was how the Maryland tracks could last initially if they did not receive the 33% of slots revenue that goes to the operator of the facility.

It will be interesting to see how the next chapter unfolds.  I pray, that whatever is best for Maryland racing, is the winner in the end!

Respectfully submitted, Sasscer Hill


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% that slots at Laurel make the most sense. But, it is inaccurate to blame the county council. When submitting its bid for slots, Magna did not submit the necessary application fee, which removed Laurel from consideration. They didn't really care, because they are in the process of auctioning off Laurel and Pimlico anyway.

What will be best for MD racing will be the day in the very near future when our tracks are no longer run by Magna Entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, I do blame them as they paid no attention to their constituents who did not want slots at the Mills.

I am not saying Magna is the way, to go. I am saying they did put up the money in an escrow account, which is customary and normal in most businesses practices. Only the state of Maryland would refuse such a deal. The money was there, they just went with Cordish.