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War Of Words: Escalation In Md. Casino Fight

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By Matt Bush

In Maryland, the war of words is escalating between a developer looking to build a slots casino in Anne Arundel County and a group of residents looking to stop the project.

Voters in Anne Arundel County will decide next month whether the Cordish Companies will be allowed to build the state's largest slots casino at Arundel Mills Mall. As election day nears, both sides are running ads, and both sides are accusing others of distorting the facts in those ads.

This week, David Cordish, the president of Cordish Companies, accused opponents of the plan of misleading voters by saying the casino will be built within the mall. The casino would be built in a mall parking lot.

Rob Annicelli, the president of Stop Slots at Arundel Mills, says it is Cordish who is being misleading.

"The casino is a mere 30 feet across an interior ring road from the mall itself," Annicelli says.

He says that to them, it means the casino will be part of the mall.

"In this case, what you're doing is changing the nature of the mall, which was already a family friendly mall, and introducing something that's foreign to it," Annicelli says.

Despite calls to do so, Annicelli says the group that got the issue on the ballot will not be releasing a list of its campaign donors. He does admit the group partnered with the Maryland Jockey Club, which supports a different proposal to put the casino at Laurel Park racetrack.

Cordish believes another gaming company, Penn National, is helping fund opponents of his plan. Penn National already holds a license to operate a slots casino in Cecil County, Md.

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