Annapolis Lobbyists Big on Gambling

Annapolis Lobbyists Big on Gambling

Staff Writer
April 9, 2012

The capital of Maryland is currently under discussion over plans for a high-stakes gambling bill to be passed, and whilst not all members involved have come to a conclusion, it is already predicted and expected that the payout is going to the lobbyists.

Various state capital lobbyists have been hired by different casinos in the state in order to make a push towards change in this legislation that will effectively progress, reform or kill it. Of the lobbyists hired, the 10 highest paid are currently in the mix, with four of them previously working for Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

“I've never seen anything like it before,” said Del. Frank Turner, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee overseeing the bill, which would allow table games and a sixth casino in the state. “I can't think of a single lobbyist who is not involved with it.”

Currently the capital city is involved in a number of different bills which maintain interest amongst lobbyists; with a minute amount not taking on a lobbyist. Whenever there is a high profit and high regulated industry involved, it seems that the hearings rooms are filled with concerned advocates ready to see a resolution come through.

In 2011, almost 700 people had been registered as State House lobbyists and accumulated more than $30 million and compensation, according to the ethics commission.

Despite the significant portion of compensation that was amassed, even more interest has been attracted to the gambling bill. “It is a full jobs program for the Maryland Government Relations Association,” said Del. Bill Frick, a Montgomery County Democrat who sits on the Ways and Means Committee.

The Ways and Means subcommittee meeting this week unleashed an extensive study over the bill and progressed to prepare comprehensive details for the full committee hearing that is due to take place, with nearly 16 additional lobbyists (aside from the subcommittee of eight) standing within earshot and taking notes of their own.

Some lobbyists are known for their casino connections, whilst others were in attendance on behalf of prospective companies looking to build and develop casinos within outlying states.

It has been estimated that the senate-passed gambling bill could produce an extra $155 million per year for the Caesars-led group if they gain a Baltimore license. In retrospect, the Maryland Live! Casino at Arundel Mills could also see $174 million, and the Penn National Gaming Hollywood  Casino Perryville taking in an additional $56 million.

This would amount to an $886 million dollar revenue increase for gambling companies, according to distributed figures from Ways and Means Committee members by Peterson lobbyists. The same analysis has also shown that the state of Maryland would also benefit from $156 million more.

The proposal is yet to be decided and will come to a conclusion within the next few days.

Source: Baltimore Sun



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