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Governor To Call For A General Assembly Special Session To Expand Gambling In Md.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Maryland lawmakers go on notice to prepare for a special session on gambling. Governor Martin O’Malley is expected to call the General Assembly back to Annapolis.

Political Reporter Pat Warren reports, there are still some issues to be ironed out.

Seven weeks after its grand opening at Arundel Mills, Maryland Live! expands. More than 500 new slots and electronic table games are activated and another building phase is underway.

“It’s been a whirlwind. We’ve gone from preparation to a whirlwind opening to the excitement of running the state’s largest gaming facility day to day,” Rob Norton, president and general manager of Maryland Live! Casino, said.

At the same time, the state is positioning itself to add to the gambling program. It appears the governor will call a special session to pass a bill that includes table games like poker, a reduction in the 67 percent casino tax rate, and a plan to build a sixth casino, likely at the National Harbor.

That part of the plan is opposed by Maryland Live! and caused concern about competition in Baltimore as well.

“There is a way to make sure that even if voters approve a sixth site, that the counties like Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County still are able to realize the full amount of the revenues they project from their already established sites,” O’Malley said.

Supporters say a sixth casino will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s education fund. Opponents say after imposing income tax hikes on Maryland residents, a tax break for casinos sends the wrong message.

“We’re saying to them, ‘Oh by the way, we’re going to call a special session and give the gambling companies from Las Vegas a big tax cut,” Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said.

Governor O’Malley believes a consensus can be reached, and put before the voters.

Maryland Live! will continue its expansion. Meanwhile, the General Assembly will have to act by August 20 to get a question before the voters on the November ballot.

Governor O’Malley makes his announcement in Annapolis Friday morning.

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