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Baltimore Tourism Group Backs Expanded Gambling

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Time is ticking on the upcoming election and the clock is running out to sway voters on expanding gambling in Maryland.

Now, as Gigi Barnett reports, the referendum to bring table games to the state is getting support from the tourism industry.

Supporters say more gambling means more visitors to Baltimore.

“I think it will be a good thing for the state of Maryland,” said one ad.

“The big losers are Maryland taxpayers,” counters a different ad.

Whether for or against Question 7 on the upcoming ballot, voters are a little more than two weeks away from hitting the polls. Television ads worth millions are overtaking the airwaves. It’s in this time crunch that one group for expanded gambling in the city is backing Question 7.

Related Story: Voters In RI, Ore., Md. To Vote On Casinos

“Harrah’s and Caesar’s are going to come to town,” said Tom Noonan. “They’ve got 40 million card-carrying members that they go out and market, they’re going to go out and market Baltimore as a new destination for them, and people will come to town.”

Tom Noonan runs Visit Baltimore, the city’s main tourism arm. He says bigger games mean more visitors to Baltimore and greater job numbers.

“People will come to town and stay in hotel rooms and obviously go gambling and use restaurants. For us, it’s all about growing the tourism industry,” Noonan said.

And where the city is planning to build its new casino makes a big difference, according to Noonan. It’s set to sit right next to M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park.

“That’s a great one-two punch together. People are coming 91 nights out of the year for either baseball or football games. They’ll have the opportunity to go right over to the casino and come back,” said Noonan.

That may be a sweet deal for gamblers, but for some voters, a new casino on Russell Street only poses a traffic tie-up.

“Whatever is going on between football and baseball, and you’re going to clutter it up with 3,000 more people a night. It’s just going to be a mess,” said voter Harry Kunze.

If Question 7 is approved by voters, Baltimore’s planned two-story casino would offer more than 3,700 slots to visitors.

Kevin McLaughlin, spokesman for “Get The Facts: Vote No On Question 7″ sent WJZ this statement: “Baltimore developers have sold the people of Maryland a bill of goods. Question 7 is a great deal for multimillionaire casino owners, but a bad deal for Baltimore taxpayers.”

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