It's expecte to go to the full Senate on Friday for a vote.
In an 11-1 vote on Thursday, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee approved a bill to expand gambling in the state. The legislation would put a referendum question before the voters in November on whether a sixth slots parlor should be constructed in Prince George's County, and if table games should be permitted in Maryland.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the legislation Friday afternoon, says Frederick County State Senator David Brinkley. "The Senate has passed this legislation during the regular session. The House of Delegates has refused to take it up," he says.
State Senators and Delegates were called back to Annapolis for the second Special Session so far this summer.
The House of Delegates is expected to be in Annapolis on Friday, and could take up the bill on Saturday and Monday. Senator Brinkley expects the General Assembly wrap up its work by early next week.
In 2008, Maryland voters approved a referendum question allowing slots parlors in Baltimore City, Cecil County, near Ocean City in Worcester County, in Anne Arundel County and at Rocky Gap State Park in Allegheny County. The only gaming venues in operation at this time are in Cecil County, Ocean Downs near Ocean City and the facility near the Arundel Mills Mall in Anne Arundel County.
The additional slots parlor and table games are expected to bring in additional revenue, according to supporters. "The theory is more revenue would be coming in, ostensibly for education," says Brinkley. "But at the same, I want to insure that the agriculture community, specifically horse racing, that we can have a thriving horse racing industry, and that benefits all of us in Frederick County and all of Western Maryland."
One drawback to Maryland's slots parlors is the 67% state tax on casinos. "Maryland's tax rate is substantially higher than other jurisdictions. We have not gotten the interested parties to come to bid for some of the licenses," says Senator Brinkley. "Either that's a valid argument or not. But that's been one of the criteria."
The Prince George's County site is planned for National Harbor.