The Washington Post

Caesars shares thoughts on Md. gambling plan

A rendering for a Harrah's casino in Baltimore. (Courtesy of Friedmutter Group)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to announce later this week whether he will call a special legislative session to pass a plan that would include the authorization of a new casino in Prince George’s County.

The additional competition is necessarily not good for Caesars, but in a letter to legislators from Baltimore — some of whom remain skeptical — the company detailed several other reasons why it supports other aspects of an expected bill.

Chief among them is the expected authorization of Las Vegas-style table games, such as black jack and roulette, in Prince George’s and at all five other Maryland slots locations, including Baltimore.

“With the enabling of table games, Baltimore would create 500 additional well-paying table games jobs, with compensation and benefits of approximately $50K per year,” wrote Jan Jones, senior vice president for communications and government relations at Caesars.

Jones also makes the case that resolving a bitter fight on gaming in Maryland could help Caesars by creating certainty in the market as it seeks the necessary financing to build its casino, which the company has said would carry its Harrah’s brand.

Jones also lays out a couple of provisions that Caesars would like to see changed, including a tax rate on table games that would not exceed 14 percent. Discussions in recent weeks have included a tax of a higher rate of 20 percent.

Caesars is also concerned with how the state’s existing tax rate on slot machines might be adjusted. An O’Malley plan would likely provide some tax relief to facilities in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore to compensate for the additional competition in Prince George’s.

Jones writes that there should be little “disparity” between the rates imposed on the casinos in Baltimore and Anne Arundel. The Anne Arundel facility — Maryland Live! at Arundel Mills mall — is closer to National Harbor, the likely Prince George’s site.

“We look forward to working together to realize the full potential of the Baltimore facility so we may generate more jobs, more revenue and create the most productive gaming site in the regions,” Jones wrote.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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