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Gambling Decision Should Benefit Residents, Not Casino Owners

A General Assembly special session, the third in a one-year span, has been called to talk about the expansion of gambling casinos in Maryland.

It has recently been announced that Governor O’Malley will reconvene the Maryland General Assembly for another special legislative session to begin on August 9.

For residents keeping track, this represents the third session outside of our regular time in Annapolis in less than a year-long span.

Let me be clear that I believe it is the responsibility of the legislature and our
administration to do the work we are called to do in the usual order of business; that is, during our regular 90-day session. While there are extraordinary circumstances that are worthy (or, as was the case with Congressional redistricting this year, absolutely necessary) of calling a special session, it is my contention that these should be rare occurrences.

That being said, once a session is called, I have a responsibility to ensure
that the interests of our communities are represented as decisions are being made – and will be attending this session, even if it means missing part or all of a planned vacation the following week.

While no official proposal has been advanced at the time of this writing, the two major issues include an expansion of gaming to include table games, as well as consideration of adding a sixth site in Prince George’s County to draw from nearby Washington, DC and northern Virginia, neither of which currently have casino locations.

I also wanted to let residents know about what I will be looking for in order for me to consider supporting a bill to expand gaming in the state of Maryland.

Any gaming proposal should be a net economic benefit to the residents of the state of Maryland. Revenue generated should be used in conjunction with strategic cuts to ensure that the state does not need to continue to rely upon tax increases to keep its budget in  balance.

Legislation should also limit reductions in the tax rate of casino operators. While it may be necessary, for example, to consider lower rates at the Anne Arundel and Baltimore City sites to compensate for a significant market share loss from a sixth site, it is unclear how lowering rates for a location in Perryville or on the Eastern Shore is necessary.

What is clear is that the state can benefit from a thoughtful expansion of its gaming program. While I would have preferred to have considered such an expansion during a regular session, I will continue to work to ensure that any proposal makes our gaming program sustainable and competitive with surrounding states in the Mid-Atlantic – and that there is a meaningful financial benefit to Maryland residents, and not to casino owners and operators.

Finally, I wanted to be clear that, while attending this session, I will be seeking no reimbursements that could add to the cost of the legislature’s time in Annapolis.

This is replicating the pledge I made and kept during the May special session, where I likewise refused to participate in costing the taxpayers of this state any additional money during our time in the state capital.

Marybeth M July 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
It is baffling why this issue cannot wait until 2013. Thank you for your efforts to not cost us even more money as the Governor calls this unnecessary special session.
Roxane July 31, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Should we believe you this time, Mr. O? What was your previous promise about gay marriage? hhmmmmm????
Timmy August 01, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Mr. O's previous promise was to make sure there was protection for churches in regards to gay marriage, which there is... So in my mind he has kept his promise. I have complete confidence in Mr. O's decision making and putting this district's interests first. It would be nice to play poker and other table games in Maryland instead of spending the money in Delaware. Regular session would be the more appropriate time for this issue though
Joe August 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Timmy, I agree with you. My wife and I have to drive to AC or Delaware to play poker, I would rather play in MD.
Eastsider August 01, 2012 at 01:52 PM
The entire problem I have being in favor for this is that a few years ago we could have had this in place but the Democrats destroyed gambling in Maryland. Now fast forward to 2012 the Democrats want statewide gambling. WHY NOW AND NOT THEN? We have lost tons of money due to politics playing my party vs. your party. It’s time for term limits and let Maryland voters decide on term limits.
kevin August 02, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Could O'Malley say okay your all here and we don't have the votes for gamblingbut do you think we could all agree on a five cent gas tax? I mean since your all here and the biggest loss of jobs in the nation we have to balence the budget. Could he do that John? I don't know honestly.

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