Zoning Laws May Give Locals Control Over Slot Plan

In 2008, Maryland voters will consider a plan to allow slot gambling machines in the state. But local zoning regulations could trump the state law, giving communities control over whether the machines are allowed or not.

"Local government officials could block the legalization of slot machine gambling in their communities even if voters in 2008 approve a ballot initiative passed this week in the General Assembly, a lawyer with the Maryland attorney general's office said yesterday."

"A little-noticed provision in the referendum legislation that orders state slots operators to comply with local zoning regulations essentially allows local authorities to exercise final say, said Kathryn M. Rowe, an assistant state attorney general who deals with bills passed by the legislature."

"If local officials in other proposed locations were to pass similar zoning restrictions on gambling, it could drastically reduce the scale of Gov. Martin O'Malley's slots proposal."

"Voters will be asked in next year's November election to amend the Maryland Constitution and allow 15,000 machines at five sites: one each in Baltimore City and Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties."

Full Story: Slots might be blocked by zoning

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