The balance – another 2,750 VLTs – is expected to open .

An investment group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp. appears to be the frontrunner for a gaming license to operate a slot machine casino in downtown Baltimore.

The group submitted its bid with a required $22.5 million initial license fee. Another bidder failed to submit the funds with its license application and is expected to be disqualified.

Caesars has been described as the lead investor and manager of the four-company group, which includes Rock Gaming. The Ohio-based company is Caesars joint venture partner in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati and Horseshoe Casino Cleveland under development.

The downtown Baltimore casino would have 3,750 slot machine-like video lottery terminals and would be located south of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Maryland Video Lottery authorities also accepted three bids for a casino license at the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort, which is located in western Maryland, an equal distance between Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

The licenses, which are expected to be awarded in 2012, would be the fifth and sixth in Maryland. The Rocky Gap casino, which would only have a maximum of 1,000 slot machines, would have a 50 percent tax on gaming revenues. All other Maryland casinos have a 67 percent tax rate.

Maryland will have three casino operating by next year. Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino Perryville is open with 1,500 VLTs out of maximum approved 2,500. The privately owned Casino at Ocean Downs has 750 games out of a maximum approved 2,500.

A third VLT parlor, the Cordish Gaming facility near Arundel Mills Mall, will open in two phases. The first phase of 2,000 VLTs is expected to open in June.


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