When the Maryland Lottery Agency granted Penn National a state license to operate a video slots casino at a location in Perryville, Cecil County, a material term and condition of the license agreement required Penn National to fully comply with Maryland’s Minority Business Enterprise Utilization law and regulations. This required Penn National to award 25 percent of the dollar value of its contracts to qualified minority and women businesses, with subcontractor goals for women set at 10 percent and African Americans set at 10 percent. As of the day of its official grand opening, and after spending over $75 million for the design and construction of its new slots palace, Penn National failed to meet the goals.
A recent MBE compliance report from the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs documents about a 16 percent MBE utilization achievement by Penn National.
To show their concern, dismay and disappointment with Penn National’s poor MBE utilization record and performance, approximately 75 owners braved strong winds and rain to stage a protest in front of Penn National’s New Perryville Slot Palace on its official opening day, Sept. 30.
Long-time minority business advocate Arnold M. Jolivet made the following statement in his speech to the protest group and others who gathered at the casino site. “The Video Slots license awarded to Penn National is a stark and vivid reminder that the state, its large contractors and licensees still discriminate against qualified minority and women-owned businesses seeking to conduct business with the state. Although the state’s MBE law was intended to be a substantive promise from the General Assembly to end insidious and unlawful discrimination against minority and women-owned businesses on state funded and authorized contracts, in over 25 years I have not seen a more open, notorious and indeed, blatant case of racial and gender-based discrimination against minority and women-owned businesses than what Penn National has perpetrated here. Neither state or Penn National officials have demonstrated any good faith efforts to facilitate meaningful M/WBE participation in the design, construction and on-going operations of the Penn National Perryville slots palace. This is patently unacceptable and we are here today to put Penn National and state officials on clear notice that we will not tolerate such unfair and unequal treatment. We will vigorously fight Penn National’s unfair and unlawful, racial and gender discriminatory contracting policies and practices. Because our cause is so fundamentally right, we shall win!”