Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SOURCE: Tax Cut Plan for Maryland Casinos Caused Breakdown in Gambling Expansion Negotiations // A 2-Year Reprieve?

BREAKING: No Special Gambling Session // Workgroup Fails to Reach Deal on PG Casino, Table Games

A moment ago, The Real Prince George's blog reported that Maryland's special "gambling workgroup" failed to reach a deal to resolve several key issues (excerpt below):
REAL PG BLOG: ...After weeks of public and behind closed doors meetings, the commission has indeed failed to reach consensus on what plan could pass both houses....

A knowledgeable Maryland Juice source has verified this news and provides additional detail:
ANONYMOUS SOURCE: "Members of the workgroup from the House of Delegates weren't willing to decrease the taxes on casino owners...."

Ultimately, this raises the likelihood that further discussion on gaming expansion will be deferred for two years, as the issues (if agreed upon) will ultimately be put before voters in a referendum.

BACKGROUND: If you're just now tuning in to the gambling debate, here are a few details about what's going on. When the legislature ended its session this April, the Assembly punted a decision on how and whether to expand gambling in Maryland. They came back for a special session to deal with budget issues, but left undecided whether or not to hold a third special session to discuss expanding gambling.

Governor O'Malley subsequently created a special workgroup to debate gaming expansion in Maryland, and he indicated that he would not push for a third legislative session this year, unless the workgroup members were able to reach a deal. Some of the key points they were debating were:
  1. Whether to allow Las Vegas-style table games at our five planned slot machine barns
  2. Whether to add a sixth casino at Prince George's County's National Harbor site
  3. Whether to give casino operators a larger share of slot machine revenue/cut their taxes

Notably, Maryland Juice reported last week that a Virginia anti-tax group sent direct mail attacking the idea of tax cuts for casinos. The piece was mailed across the state, and several legislators have reported receiving numerous calls and emails on the topic. A few politicos have theorized that rival casino operators may have financed the mail-piece, but we have no way of knowing that yet. But if that turns out to be true: well-played.

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