Maryland gets fewer bids for slot licenses than expected

Maryland officials opened six bids for five potential slot machine locations, far below expectations state leaders had going into the process.

The bids would cover 10,555 slot machines, well short of the 15,000 slot machines allowed under a resolution passed by Maryland voters in November.

“A difficult economic environment, in tandem with a high tax rate (67 percent on gross gaming revenues), likely limited the number of bidders in Maryland,” Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Bill Lerner told investors Tuesday.

Only one location, in Anne Arundel County, received more than one bid.

The only gaming company of note to enter the process was Penn National Gaming, which proposed a $75 million, 500-slot machine casino in Cecil County. Penn National said the company’s bid could expand to 1,000 slot machines, well below the 2,500 slot machines authorized for the location.

No company with Las Vegas ties bid for the Maryland slot machine licenses.

The speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Michael Busch, termed the proposals a good start to the process.

But a Bethesda, Md., gaming analyst told the Baltimore Sun the number of applications “has got to be highly disappointing to the state.”

Donald Fry, the chairman of Maryland’s gaming commission told the Web site the downcast economy played a role in the lower than expected number of bids.