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Maryland Politics
Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 01/13/2012

Baker asks Prince George’s delegates to consider gaming

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), during an appearance in Annapolis on Friday, urged state lawmakers from his jurisdiction to “keep an open mind” about hosting a gambling site.


Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III during an appearance in Annapolis last year. (By Mark Gail/The Washington Post)
Penn National Gaming, the owner of Rosecroft Raceway, is lobbying the legislature to authorize a sixth gaming site in Prince George’s, with hopes of bringing slots and table games to the Fort Washington horse-racing track.

Baker, during a briefing to the Prince George’s House delegation on his administration’s priorities, said he has yet to see a bill spelling out how much revenue the county could reap from a gambling site.

“I need to see what those revenues look like,” Baker said.

Both the state and hosting counties retain a share of slots proceeds under existing law.

Prince George’s lawmakers strongly opposed hosting a venue when lawmakers crafted Maryland’s program in 2007. Some — but certainly not all — are rethinking their positions as budget challenges continue.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) is working on a bill that would allow table games at Maryland’s five previously approved slots sites and authorize a sixth gambling site in Prince George’s.

That prospect faces opposition from existing slots operators in other counties, who could lose a share of their markets, as well as from a vocal group of Prince George’s ministers.

Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s) quizzed Baker about how legalized gambling could affect the county’s image.

“I’m just a little bit concerned about how slots would affect the brand of Prince George’s County,” Ivey said.

Baker noted that gambling is already taking place at Rosecroft and suggested that a casino would not be a problem in that regard.

“I don’t think that bothers the county one way or another,” Baker said.

Baker also downplayed concerns about the prospect of gaming at National Harbor, another possible site that has resurfaced in recent weeks.

While no one from National Harbor has approached him about that idea, Baker said it is “an entertainment venue already” so he sees limited impact in adding gaming to that massive development on the Potomac.

By  |  12:06 PM ET, 01/13/2012

 
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