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Maryland voters consider mall casino

The design of a casino planned for a mall in the suburbs between Baltimore, Md., and Washington D.C.

Developer Joe Weinberg with Baltimore-based Cordish Companies shows an illustration of the casino he wants to build next to a mall in suburban Maryland.

Parking spaces at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md., would give way to a casino under a plan residents will vote on in November.

TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: Voters in Maryland will decide next month whether to allow construction of a casino next to a shopping mall. Hmm, slot machines and shopping? Is that a good fit?

We asked reporter Cathy Duchamp to check it out.


CATHY DUCHAMP: This is the Arundel Mills Mall. It's about half-way between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Right now this place is all about shopping. there are outlet stores galore. I'm looking at the Gap, American Eagle.

But if developer Joe Weinberg gets his way, we'll be able to walk out the food court doors here, across a parking lot, and into a slots casino with 4,700 machines.

JOE WEINBERG: We would expect that the Arundel Mills facility will be one of the top grossing casinos anywhere in the country.

Weinberg is development chief for Baltimore-based Cordish Companies. He's convinced slots and shopping are a good combination. That's based on revenue from a casino and retail complex his company built in Florida. Weinberg expects the state of Maryland could net close to a half-billion dollars a year in tax revenue from a casino at the Arundel Mills Mall.

WEINBERG: If you look at the average profile of the casino gambler, the average spend will be somewhere between $50-$100 per visit which is not too different than going to a movie and out for dinner.

But the mall-casino mash-up faces opposition.

TV AD: I think there has to be a better place to put a casino where there are no families and residential homes around it. The project is much too large to go into a mall parking lot.

That's a TV ad produced by a group fighting the plan. The campaign is mostly financed by owners of a horse racing track that's 10 miles away. They want a casino there. The owners wouldn't talk, but clearly stand to lose business if the mall casino project moves forward.

Trip McCoy is an analyst with the firm Heller Gaming and Leisure. He says battles over where casinos belong will continue across the country.

TRIP MCCOY: More and more states are facing wider and wider budget deficits. So our expectation is that you're going to see more and more proliferation.

The American Gaming Association reports as of today 38 states have some form of casino gambling.

I'm Cathy Duchamp for Marketplace.

Developer Joe Weinberg with Baltimore-based Cordish Companies shows an illustration of the casino he wants to build next to a mall in suburban Maryland.

Parking spaces at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md., would give way to a casino under a plan residents will vote on in November.

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