Reporting Pat Warren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Maryland gears up for another battle over casinos. Lawmakers approve expanded gambling, but voters will ultimately decide whether to allow it.
Political reporter Pat Warren spent all night and day in Annapolis and explains what happens now.
The bill squeaked by the House by one vote, is blessed by the Senate and will move to the ballot—guaranteeing a lot of squawking between now and November.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s expanded gambling strategy includes table games to raise state revenue, a sixth casino to build up the state workforce and transferring ownership of slot machines to put millions more into education.
Put it to the voters, and let it ride.
“In November, the people will have their say as to whether they approve this bipartisan bill that was passed by the House and the Senate,” said Gov. O’Malley.
“I’ve never been a huge proponent of gaming,” said House Speaker Mike Busch.
Busch, whose district includes Maryland Live!, says he’s satisfied that gaming is what voters want and he — along with Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — are satisfied that tax breaks in the bill offset any competition from a casino in Prince George’s County.
“Three out of five Marylanders believe that there should be this type of gaming,” Busch said.
Voters in Prince George’s County will decide if gaming at National Harbor is the best location for a casino in their county.
“I’m elated. National Harbor is the best site on the East Coast. I think everyone will concede that. Competition is good, so we don’t mind the fact that there is competition out there,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.
O’Malley says the bill would create 2,300 permanent jobs in the state. It would also raise $200 million a year for education.