BALTIMORE - Slots have already become a reality in Anne Arundel County and an empty lot south of M&T Bank Stadium will ultimately bring the one-armed bandits to Baltimore, but allowing another casino with table games in Prince George’s County could cut into both, and Governor Martin O’Malley must address that before he can call a special session to expand gambling.
"You sequence the timing of the sixth (casino) so that it does not come on line until 2016, if it were approved by the voters,” said O’Malley, “That gives you the opportunity to see exactly what the benchmark is and you have provisions to see that the city and Anne Arundel County are held harmless in terms of local share."
The city committed to a slots parlor five years ago as a means to cut the property tax rate and to build new schools.
It can’t afford to have a new competitor cut into its bottom line.
"Obviously with the addition of a third site, the local impact share would be impacted,” said House Speaker Michael Busch, “and we believe we can take the money and put it into a collective pot of Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Baltimore City, divide it up into percentages."
Lawmakers who represent Baltimore say they’re open to compromise on the issue, but they want to see the numbers in writing.
"One thing my Mama always told me is, 'Get it in writing,'” said Baltimore Delegation Chairman Curt Anderson, “So that's what we want to do. We want to see it in writing, because we have to make a decision not just for the casino operator in Baltimore City. We have to make a decision for what's best for the citizens of Baltimore City."
The governor has pledged to provide a written form of the bill by the end of the week.
In addition to the city, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties also are getting the hard sell, but at least one Baltimore delegate believes the fate of any proposal rests in the hands of Charm City.
"I think if there isn't a majority of positive votes from the Baltimore City delegation, you probably won't have a special session," said Delegate Maggie McIntosh.
The clock is running down for the governor to be able to call a special session and for lawmakers to approve table games in time for it to be put on the ballot for voters to decide in November.
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