Maryland casino spent millions on Anne Arundel campaign

Slot MachineThe casino being planned near Arundel Mills mall spent roughly $1 million a month lobbying voters to approve its zoning as a slots facility in Anne Arundel County, according to election records.

PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, a subsidiary of Baltimore's Cordish Cos., gave $3.1 million in contributions to the political group Jobs and Revenue for Anne Arundel County between August and November last year, according to the University of Maryland's Center for American Politics and Citizenship. The political group was lobbying county voters to vote "yes" on the Question A referendum that asked whether zoning should be approved for the casino and another site in the county.

The $3.1 million is likely just a drop in the bucket in what has been a costly and litigious battle for the casino and its opponents. Last year, attorneys on boths sides spent months challenging — or defending — the validity of a petition that sought to put the Question A referendum on the county ballot for the 2010 general election. Cordish eventually lost that battle. Then both sides spent millions on their referendum campaigns.

In his lawsuit filed Tuesday, Cordish refers to this ongoing campaign by horse racing interests against his casino as a "conspiracy," noting the cost "in rebutting the conspiracy was enormous in terms of time, money and delay."

The complaint adds that Maryland's racetrack owners and the Maryland Jockey Club spent "at least" $8 million in their counter-campaign last fall. Yet track owners are still asking legislators to temporarily divert the state's reserve fund for racetrack improvements to subsidize racetrack operations.