Maryland's largest casino isn't even open yet -- and already some lawmakers say it's time to add another location to the mix.
Members of the House Ways and Means Committee heard a proposal from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker on Friday. He says a $1-billion casino in the National Harbor development would benefit his county and the state.
Just this week, dozens of slot machines arrived at the nearly-completed "Maryland Live!” casino outside of Arundel Mills Mall.
As it stands right now, Arundel Mills will be the closest of Maryland's casinos to the massive Northern Virginia market – 2.6-million people with not one casino in their state.
A drive from Tysons Corner to Arundel Mills is more than 40 miles, through some of the region's worst traffic. The drive from Tysons to National Harbor is just 20 miles.
“We're bringing a destination resort, which will have live entertainment, high-end retail, mixed-use, those are the things that will actually be economic development,” County Executive Baker said.
There is resistance on the Ways and Means Committee. “We have locations that are not up and running. We need to wait until we get them up and running I think before we proceed to try to add more locations,” said Del. Joe Boteler (R-Baltimore County).
The Prince George’s proposal faces a number of other hurdles -- it is not one of the five locations included in the 2008 slot machine law.
That means in addition to votes in both the House and Senate, it would take a statewide referendum to add another slots location.
It will face criticism from The Cordish Companies, which is building the Maryland Live! casino at Arundel Mill.
And one of the reasons Prince George’s County was not included in 2008, was significant opposition from residents and religious leaders in the county. It’s not clear whether that has changed.
Plus – the proposal depends on expanding the state's gaming program to include table games like roulette and poker. Lawmakers did not support that idea back in 2008.
“There's still a lot of work to be done as far as getting the slots up and running i think before we cross that barrier,” Del. Boteler said.
The Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on the proposal next week. A similar bill is also working its way through the State Senate.
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