With Wednesday’s decision to grant a slots license to Ocean Downs on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a months-long journey came to an end for one of the four qualified bidders for “video lottery terminals” in the state.
While some observers have expressed frustration with the length of this journey, Donald C. Fry, chairman of the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, disagrees.
“It’s funny, people think it’s been a long process, but it took the legislature a long time to get to this point. I don’t think it necessarily took the commission a long time,” Fry said. “Although this was done in a very thorough and deliberative fashion, it was done in a fairly short period of time.”
But, to echo the words of the 80’s band Talking Heads, how did we get here? What must a bidder do to receive a license? Here’s an overview:
Bidders must have submitted a proposal to the slots commission in February along with the necessary fees — $3 million for every 500 machines requested — as well as present their proposal during a public hearing and site visit.
They also are subjected to a myriad of studies — including traffic, economic viability and potential tax revenue generated — and put through an independent background investigation looking into the personal character of the bidders, their financial stability and how successful they’ll be in running the casino.
If they pass the background investigation (the State Lottery Commission must sign off on a bidder before they move forward), the slots commission takes these studies into consideration and makes a decision. They do this based mostly on the projected financial success of the slots parlor (70 percent), with less weight given to jobs created (15 percent) and the positive/negative aspects of the location (15 percent).
There’s much more that goes into the process, but based on the volume of testimony and reports created by the Ocean Downs bid, a great deal of time and energy is being spent on these proposals. The commission’s next meeting is Oct. 7.
- By Capital News Service’s Bobby McMahon