Reporting Meghan McCorkell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Going head to head. The battle over gambling is just hours away as the General Assembly is called back to a special session in Annapolis.
Meghan McCorkell has more on what’s sure to be a fight.
The governor says he called this special session so gambling expansion can finally be resolved and lawmakers can finally move on.
The expansion of gambling is a divisive topic the governor says has dominated Annapolis.
Now the governor is rolling the dice on new legislation that would permit table games in the state of Maryland and allow a new casino in Prince George’s County.
Under the governor’s plan, the proposed casino at the National Harbor would open in mid-2016.
“I’m in favor of it. I think it’s the perfect spot right on the river,” said Robin Neuschler, Prince George’s County resident.
But operators of the current casinos in the state, including Maryland Live! in Anne Arundel County, say changing the rules of the game now is patently unfair. Some lawmakers agree.
“It sends a message that you cannot trust the state of Maryland to keep their word. And you can’t,” said State Senator Nancy Jacobs.
To ease competition concerns, the governor’s bill provides tax breaks to Maryland Live! and the proposed casino in Baltimore. Instead of taking home 33 percent of profits, the companies would keep 38 percent. The extra money would be used for marketing and capital improvements.
“I think they should give tax breaks to the people, not to the gambling industry,” said one resident.
As the special session is set to start, both sides are ready to show their cards.
The governor’s bill is expected to pass the Senate but he says he is expecting a fight in the House of Delegates.
If the gambling expansion passes the General Assembly, it would be put on the ballot in November for voters to ultimately decide.