Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is cautioning state lawmakers against going too far in leveraging their votes on an expanded gambling plan during next week’s special session.
Several lawmakers from Baltimore have floated the idea of tying their votes to separate legislation that would increase the city’s borrowing authority for school construction projects.
In a letter Tuesday to city delegates, Rawlings-Blake (D) restates her support for a gambling plan that includes allowing a new casino in Prince George’s County, as well as table games at Maryland’s five other slots location, including one expected to open in Baltimore in 2014.
“Based on my discussions with the governor and the Speaker, I believe a hard-line position on withholding votes for legislation other than gaming during the special session could collapse the entire effort,” Rawlings-Blake wrote.
In the letter, the mayor acknowledges that her support of an expanded gambling bill “is certainly not an easy choice.”
Caesars Entertainment, which on Tuesday won a license to build and operate the Baltimore casino, has said it would be hurt by the added competition of a Prince George’s facility, most likely at National Harbor.
But both Caesars and Rawlings-Blake argue that disadvantage would be offset by the authorization of table games and an expected reduction in the tax rate imposed on the casino.
Rawlings-Blake said in the letter that there is no likely scenario where the legislature would authorize table games in Baltimore without adding a Prince George’s site.
“The link between the addition of table games ... and a sixth site is inextricable,” Rawlings-Blake wrote. “The political landscape is such that we cannot have table games without the sixth site — plain and simple.”
The sixth site has been championed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).
The mayor’s letter is certain to be a topic of conversation a meeting Wednesday night of Baltimore lawmakers.
Other local delegations are also gathering in advance of the session to discuss what members think of the legislation. Lawmakers from Montgomery County are scheduled to meet Thursday.