A work group failed to come to a consenus on Tues.
The possibility of adding another gambling venue in Maryland appears to be dead. On Tuesday, a work group charged with looking at building a slots casino in Prince George's County, approving table games and readjusting the amount of revenue going to the state failed to reach consensus. So there probably won't be a special session this summer to discuss this issue.
"We'll have to see if anything comes of it. But at this point in time, it doesn't look like there's any interest in moving forward," says Frederick County State Senator David Brinkley.
But House Speaker Michael Busch said the door is still open for further discussion on expanding gambling in the state. Busch told reporters Thursday at the State House that there were very strong feelings against lowering the state's 67% tax to accommodate the casino in Prince George's County. Later on that day, he said the work group was "98% in agreement," except for the tax issue, and additional progress could be made for the Governor to call a special session next month.
In a statement, Governor Martin O'Malley said he will continue to have conversations with Speaker Busch and Senate President Mike Miller and other officials to resolve these issues.
Brinkley says the one reason the work group failed had to do with, David Cordish, the owner of the casino near Arundel Mills Mall, which recently opened. "He has been very, very opposed to any type of expansion of gaming. Why? Because his numbers and his model counted on the Prince George's audience, and the Northern Virginia and District of Columbia customer base," he says.
In addition, Brinkley says, there's a problem with the process the state has with approving new gaming venues. Every time there's a request for a new slots casino, it must go before the voters in a referendum. "The other way to handle it, which nobody seems to have an appetite for, is to actually put a question before the voters that says 'these things don't have to come before the voters. Take it out of the Constitution.' It does not need to be in the Constitution," he says.
In 2008, a majority of Maryland voters approved in a referendum slot machine gambling in Harford County, Ocean City, Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Rocky Gap in Garrett County. No other venues were listed.
As for the issue of allowing table games, such as blackjack and roulette, Brinkley says he favors that. "If we're gong to have a regulated gaming industry in the state, then you might as well have it done in a fashion that really allows some supervision and allows people who really enjoy that type of recreation to do so," he says. Brinkley also points out that both Delaware and West Virginia have similar venues which entice Maryland residents to come and gamble.
There has also been some discussion recently about whether Frederick should be the 7th location of a slots casino, but Brinkley thinks that's a remote possibility. "I think it can be evaluated, but it's certainly far down the totem pole on potentially profitable venues," he says.