With a special session on expanded gambling set to begin in Maryland next week, lawmakers from Anne Arundel County appear to be rallying around the owner of the new casino in their jurisdiction.
Delegates and senators from Anne Arundel have been invited to a meeting Tuesday morning at Maryland Live!, which opened last month at Arundel Mills mall.
The casino owner, the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., has emerged as the most vocal opponent of a special session in which lawmakers will weigh allowing a new casino in neighboring Prince George’s County, as well as authorizing Las Vegas-style table games at existing slots locations. Cordish argues that the new site will unfairly cut into its market in the Washington region.
Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel), chairman of his county’s House delegation, described the gathering at the casino as a “briefing” but said the view among his colleagues is nearly unanimous.
“Overwhelmingly, people think this is not a good idea,” George said.
Many members, George said, think allowing another casino amounts to a “broken promise” to Cordish, who invested $550 million in his facility with the understanding that Maryland would have five, not six casinos.
There are 15 delegates and five senators who represent parts of Anne Arundel County. In the regular legislative session this year, four of five senators voted against a similar gambling bill, which did not come to a vote in the House.
One of those who won’t be in attendance Tuesday morning is House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who aides have said is out of pocket the first part of this week.
Busch appeared last week at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s announcement of a special session. O’Malley (D) argued the gambling expansion would create jobs and end a long-running bitter debate over the issue.