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O’Malley Denounces Anti-Gambling Ads As ‘Hogwash’

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley on Wednesday fired back against television advertisements opposing the state’s proposed gambling expansion, contending the casino company behind them is simply trying to protect its large operation in West Virginia from losing Maryland gamblers.

“It’s a bunch of West Virginia casino hooey,” the governor said.

O’Malley, speaking to reporters outside the Maryland State House, took particular umbrage at the suggestion in the ads that additional gambling proceeds won’t go to education as set out in the proposal. The ads, paid for by Penn National Gaming Inc., suggest Maryland has reneged on funding promises in the past, and that voters shouldn’t be fooled.

But O’Malley, who has made education funding a top priority of his tenure, said it was “ludicrous” to suggest Maryland hasn’t been committed to funding education during his administration, which has made record investments in schools.

“It’s silly to engage in what ifs when you look at our history and you look at every budget I’ve ever submitted,” the governor said in a follow-up interview.

However, the governor conceded it’s not possible to say how the money will be used in perpetuity under future administrations.

“You know, what’s the guarantee that a house won’t fall on Mr. Carlino tomorrow,” O’Malley said, referring to Penn National’s chairman and chief executive officer, Peter Carlino.

Maryland is in the middle of an astonishing ad blitz from both sides of the gambling issue, which will be on the ballot in November.

So far, with more than a month before Election Day, Penn National has spent more than $18 million on its campaign against a casino in Prince George’s County. Supporters, including Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, have spent more than $14 million. Supporters tout the proposed gambling expansion as a big revenue raiser for the state that will generate thousands of jobs.

O’Malley called a special session in August, when lawmakers approved allowing table games like blackjack at Maryland casinos as well as a new casino site in Prince George’s County, where MGM wants to build a casino at National Harbor near the nation’s capital.

Penn National, which is based in Wyomissing, Pa., owns the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, not far from the Maryland border. It also owns the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, which was Maryland’s first casino to open. It also owns Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland, which is in Prince George’s County.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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