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Campaigns For And Against Expanded Gambling Md.’s Most Expensive

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJZ)– Maryland’s ballot question on expanded gambling is the most expensive campaign in state.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains, the millions spent on the Vote Yes and Vote No campaigns are small potatoes compared to what both sides stand to gain.

“A vote for Question 7 is a vote for Maryland jobs,” says a television advertisement in favor of expanded gambling.

“Their dishonest ads are everywhere,” said another that is opposed to the proposition.

The supporters’ ad campaign says the expanded gambling question adding table games and a casino in Prince George’s County means thousands of jobs and millions for education.

The opponents’ ad campaign says, don’t believe it.

“On education, the Examiner says, ‘School spending in Maryland won’t increase,’” the advertisement says.

But are voters really listening?

“Can’t help it. They’re omnipresent,” one voter said.

A whopping $19.4 million– that’s how much gambling interests are spending to get your vote on Question 7.

MGM Resorts is spending $8.4 million to get you to vote yes, Penn National Gaming is putting down $9.5 million to convince you to say no.

Between the two of them, that’s $17.9 million, almost a million more than was spent on the 2010 governor’s race. Add to that another million and a half from Caesars Entertainment and National Harbor developers, and you have the most expensive campaign in Maryland history.

Warren: “Have you paid any attention to those TV ads?”
Voter: “I know the issue.”

Warren: “What do you think of the ad campaign?”
Voter: “I think they’re expensive.”

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker joined executives Ken Ulman of Howard County and Ike Leggett of Montgomery County in Silver Spring on Thursday to support Question 7.

About that, a spokesman for the Vote No campaign tells WJZ: “Maryland voters today heard another round of overly optimistic claims from Question 7 backers.”

But even with being so high-profile, not all voters are tuned in.

“Kind of, sort of,” one voter said.

Expanded gambling is one of four ballot questions. The others are same-sex marriage, redistricting and immigrant tuition.

“Not really,” said another.

There seems to be more work for everybody ahead.

“Somebody’s promising you something. Somebody’s saying something on this side,” Janelle Loving said. “You just have to dig down to the research and figure it out for yourself, I guess.”

While the county executives intend to bring their pitch to Baltimore, expect the ad campaigns on TV to intensify as the election gets closer.

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