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Potential Tax Cuts For Casinos Stir Controversy

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The gambling bill is surrounded by controversy because of the tax breaks casinos would get.

Rochelle Ritchie has more.

Maryland’s state comptroller had strong opinions about this, calling it a bank robbery out in the open and a failed experiment.

Legislatures continue to roll the dice for tax breaks on Maryland casinos.

“It’s hard to watch this crony capitalism,” said State Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Franchot spoke to WJZ by phone Tuesday and called the tax breaks a slap in the face of hard-working Marylanders, who were hit with an income tax increase two months ago.

“What about bringing the special session back for the steel workers or the 400 Hagerstown residents who lost their jobs two weeks ago. Those are real Marylanders in real crisis,” Franchot said.

If the bill reaches the Senate and passes, some casinos like Maryland Live! at Arundel Mills could see its tax rate cut from 67 percent to 51 percent with an option to bring it down as low as 49 percent.

While some may not like it, others argue the success of the casino business is a huge chunk of Maryland’s revenue.

“You also gotta understand, we are the highest rate in the nation so I understand to keep Maryland competitive in the gaming industry, you gotta cut them some breaks,” said Mike O’Halloren.

Franchot says hoping the gaming industry will be in better standing because of the tax cut is wishful thinking.

“I have written out checks for $260 million in taxpayer money to gambling companies to buy slot machines. We haven’t even made that back yet,” Franchot said.

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