At present, there has been no consensus from the work group assigned to discuss issues and recommendations on the expansion of gambling in Maryland. The members of the group still have mixed views on whether they were really going to add a new casino in Prince George County. Pro-gambling parties find this as a big setback from getting the legislation approved this summer.
The work group consisted of lawmakers and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s advisers. Their public meeting has been reported to be delayed for three hours and caused them to announce that they could not reach a consensus considering they had 11 members in their group.
John Morton III, the group’s chairman, wrote in a letter that it was clear that the members had their own reservations on the topic of expansion and that these differences were hard to overcome.
Gov. O’Malley, said he would call a special session in July to talk about gambling expansion, but only if a consensus could be reached by the work group. Next month’s special session might fail to materialize after this Wednesday’s lack of results. But a representative from the office of O’Malley had said that the special session was not out of the question.
The governor’s Spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said that he (governor) has the right to call a special session on this issue or other issues that the state of Maryland is facing even with a failed session with the work group
Morton said that the group has voted 8 to 3 in favor of accepting the recommendations for slot machines and additional table games. He added that a majority of the work group has supported the recommendations being made, but the members are still not prepared for the recommendations of a sixth casino to be built in Prince George County and the conditions related to it like the reduction of the current state tax.
Last week, MGM Resorts International had already expressed their intent to work with Peterson Cos. to develop a resort casino at National Harbor. National Harbor is a riverside property development near Washington D.C. Representatives from MGM had also expressed their opinion in having the current tax rate lowered because it was one of the highest in the whole country.
But MGM is still interested in creating the new casino if a deal can be worked out. Last week chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, Jim Murren, visited O’Malley and told him about his intent of building a $600 million hotel and casino along with a budget of another $200 million from National Harbor developers, The Peterson Cos. Murren had said that this construction could potentially give more jobs to the residents.
Milton Peterson of the Peterson Cos. had expressed his disappointment with the outcome of the work group last Wednesday. He still hopes that the group could revisit the issues and recommendation and gets addressed.
The work group has also been pondering on whether they should allow more table games in the five casinos in Maryland. There are three of these five casinos that have already been open with slots and electronic versions of table games.
It should also be noted by everyone that even if the expansion of gambling passes, voters from the state will still have to vote to approve the changes in November to get additional table games.