A new ballot-issue committee funded by Penn National Gaming started airing a television ad Thursday opposing the gambling expansion plan passed by the General Assembly this month.
The new group is billing itself “Get the Facts — No on 7,” a reference to the number of the question on the November ballot that will ask voters if they approve of allowing a new Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s County and table games at Maryland’s five other authorized slots casinos.
“Don’t get played. Check the facts,” the ad warns viewers.
Karen Bailey, a spokeswoman for Penn National Gaming — which explained its reasons for opposing the plan in newspaper ads Thursday — said the television ad would air statewide.
Bailey confirmed that Penn is helping fund the ballot-issue committee. A report is expected to be filed in coming days disclosing how much the company has spent thus far.
Penn owns one Maryland casino, in Cecil County, and has expressed interest in building another in Prince George’s, at Rosecroft Raceway.
The legislation signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) would invite bids for a Prince George’s casino from a swath of the county including both Rosecroft and National Harbor. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has made clear that his preference is National Harbor, the 300-acre mini-city on the banks of the Potomac River.
Among the facts the ad asks voters to consider: The plan “cuts taxes for billionaire special interests while taxes on working families go up.”
The legislation would allow existing casino owners to keep a greater share of proceeds to compensate for the introduction of a new casino in Prince George’s. Earlier this year, the legislature raised income taxes on six-figure earners in Maryland.
For Maryland Jobs and Schools, a ballot-issue committee supporting the expansion plan, has already started airing television and radio ads advocating its cause. MGM Resorts, which has been lined up to operate a casino at National Harbor, has contributed $2.4 million to the effort, according to filed reports.
On Thursday, Howard Libit, a spokesman for the pro-expansion group, said Penn is trying to protect a profitable casino it owns in Charles Town, W. Va.
“This is a West Virginia-funded effort to deceive Maryland voters and deprive them of the thousands of jobs and millions for our schools that a new world-class resort casino would bring to the state,” Libit said.