Governor sends gambling referendum to voters

ANNAPOLIS, Md - A long night in Annapolis ends with the stroke of a pen.

Lawmakers are calling it a compromise between many varying viewpoints and interests.

The House of Delegates debated for more than seven hours last night on dozens of amendments to make the bill palatable.

Changes that the house speaker says will make Maryland more competitive with other states and to basically give people what they want.

 "Three out of five Marylanders believe that there should be this type of gaming in the State of Maryland and I've looked at the legislation when we decided to come in for a special session that it was our obligation to put the best product on the ballot. " Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch says. 

Some of the key issues include a sixth casino in Prince Georges County,

Adding table games to existing casinos

Allowing so called pull tab gambling at VFW halls and other organizations.

There would also be lower taxes for Maryland Live and a future Baltimore Casino if a sixth casino is built to make up for their losses.

By getting this done in special session the gaming referendum will make it to voters this November and they'll have the final say.

But the governor says it comes down to just one thing.

"This bill allows us to create 23 hundred jobs throughout our state those are 23 permanent ongoing jobs in our state there will also be jobs associated with the construction of the facility especially if the sixth site be approved by the voters. "  Governor Martin O'Malley says. 

One of the provisions of the new gambling bill allows for competition between venues in PG that want a casino.

Rosecroft raceway is one and the other is here, The National Harbor development.

Right across the Wilson bridge from Virginia and the District of Columbia which have no casino gambling.

Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker says it's his first choice.

"I believe that National Harbor is our best site for it because it has the greatest potential for spurring economic development outside of the destination resort itself." Baker says.

Baltimore City could also be a winner in this.

The referendum would prevent a PG site from opening for two years after the city's new casino comes on line.

And adding table games, the mayor says would give the future Baltimore casino more punch.

"The addition of table games to the Harrah's site in Baltimore will mean at least an addition 500 jobs that's definitely needed in Baltimore I'm excited about the possibilities." Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake says.

Now the one thing about this is that if voters in PG County say they don't want a casino there and the vote reflects that the sixth casino in PG won't be built.

Critics of the whole thing say a PG county casino at national harbor would mean that the state's three largest casino's....

 PG, Maryland Live in Anne Arundel County and a Baltimore would sort of cancel each other out.

Folks against this are expected to appeal to the public through TV and radio in weeks to come.

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