Watchdog Group Opposes Tax Breaks For Md. Casinos

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A national taxpayer group urges Maryland voters to oppose any plan to lower tax rates for the state’s casino operators.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains the Taxpayer Protection Alliance is focused on conditions for a possible casino at National Harbor.

The possibility of lowering gambling tax rates to attract a casino at National Harbor in Prince Georges County has a notice popping up in Marylanders’ mailboxes. The Taxpayer Protection Alliance primarily looks into federal spending and tax issues but possible changes in Maryland’s gambling law caught its eye.

Casino operators argue the state is virtually taxing itself out of the range of investors.

“When you have a tax rate that is the highest in the nation at 67 percent, when you pay 67 percent of the revenue before you pay anyone anything for any service or labor, the tax rate is egregiously high,” said Maryland lawmakers.

But it was that or nothing to get a gambling bill passed.

“There were a number of members who felt at the time that the state’s take was too high, but they were willing to vote for it because they understood in order to get other members on board it had to be the highest take,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley.

A work group is reconsidering that take to attract a casino to National Harbor and is scheduled to report to the governor by Wednesday.

“I would think that people just don’t want one company to get this huge tax break, especially when you have the governor and the House and Senate saying ‘we’re gonna raise taxes on families, on small businesses,’ so it’s really kind of a mixed message that taxpayers are receiving,” said an official from the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.

For what it’s worth, most everything about Maryland’s venture into gambling has been mixed up. Any effort to add another casino has to be approved by voters, and it will take a special session to move that forward in time for the November election.

The Taxpayer Protection Alliance primarily looks into federal spending and tax issues but occasionally takes on state issues as well.

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