MGM, CBAC jump into Question 7 suit -- Gazette.Net


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A pair of casino operators have joined forces to fight a legal challenge to the results of Maryland’s recent statewide vote on expanding gambling.

The Caesars Baltimore Acquisition Co. — the investment group behind the forthcoming Harrah’s Baltimore — and MGM Resorts International, which wants to build a major casino at National Harbor, are asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed against the state by eight Prince George’s residents earlier this month.

The complaint questions the number of votes the ballot measure, known as Question 7, needed to pass, alleging a discrepancy between the number cited in the Maryland Constitution and the number cited in the expanded-gambling bill that lawmakers passed this summer.

Caesars and MGM jointly moved last week to intervene in the lawsuit and have it dismissed, in part because a drawn-out legal challenge would damage their business interests.

The Baltimore company “requires certainty to determine whether gaming in Maryland includes table games so it can design its facilities accordingly,” while MGM must make several difficult financial decisions, including whether to submit a multimillion-dollar licensing deposit, according to the companies’ dismissal motion.

The motion also argues that the plaintiffs didn’t file their complaint in a timely fashion, but rather waited until two days before the election, creating an unnecessary disruption of the electoral process.

The state is preparing its response to the complaint, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Michael Berman, an attorney for the two casino operators, declined to comment Monday.

Thomas Dernoga, attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was unconcerned by the efforts to intervene.

“We’re confident in our arguments,” he said.

About 1.29 million people, or 51.9 percent, voted in support of the ballot question, which allows Las Vegas-style table games and a Prince George’s casino. About 1.19 million, or 48.1 percent, voted against it.

In the weeks before the election, MGM pumped more than $40 million into the campaign in support of the measure. Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., a popular destination for Maryland gamblers, spent more than $42 million on a campaign urging voters to reject the measure.

Penn National has denied any involvement in the complaint, but a lawyer representing two county residents who sought to intervene as defendants earlier this month has said there is “no question” that the suit was motivated by the company.

No hearing had been scheduled as of Monday.

dleaderman@gazette.net