Slots vote down to the wire in Anne Arundel

Tuesday's vote on slots in Anne Arundel County has been one of the most contentious campaigns in recent memory, with both sides claiming the upper hand going into Election Day.

A vote for the Question A referendum by Anne Arundel residents would approve two slots zoning permits awarded by the county council last year: one near the Arundel Mills mall and another at Laurel Park, which is operated by the Maryland Jockey Club.

Baltimore developer David Cordish wants to build the state's largest slots casino near the mall and holds the county's lone slots license. The jockey club says that would destroy nearby Laurel's betting business and wants slots at the track.

"We're pretty confident we're going to win this thing," said Rob Annicelli, chair of Stop Slots at the Mall, which is largely funded by the jockey club.

Meanwhile, a Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies poll gives the edge to Cordish, with 48 percent of county voters for the referendum and 45 percent against.

For months the two sides have been fiercely battling to sway voters.

Casino backers tried to use the arrest of a Glen Burnie man who police found with 70 stolen Question A signs to charge their opponents with an organized campaign to thwart efforts to advertise the ballot question. But so far police said they have made no link between that arrest and opponents of the casino.

The anti-casino camp then sent a letter to the Maryland attorney general saying the Cordish companies violated election law by offering ownership stakes and perks to local business owners in exchange for support.

David Clogg, a former member of the Maryland Racing Commission, said the campaigns are confusing voters.

"[One county resident] said he's mystified by the whole situation -- he feels like he doesn't really know what is really what," Clogg said. "I'm sure there's other people that feel the same way."

Cordish says his casino would generate $400 million a year in tax revenue for school construction and $30 million for county services.

Both sides said they plan to have volunteers at every precinct in the county Tuesday.

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