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Maryland Politics
Posted at 09:40 PM ET, 07/31/2012

Cordish seeks tax relief, other breaks for its casino


The new Maryland Live ! casino at Arundel Mills mall on opening night on June 6. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post)
The owner of Maryland Live!, which has strongly opposed allowing a new casino in neighboring Prince George’s County, on Tuesday laid out the terms of expanded gambling legislation that it could accept.

The Cordish Cos. is seeking a steep reduction in the tax rate it pays on slots revenue, a delay in the opening date of a Prince George’s facility, legalization of Internet gaming and restrictions on future changes to Maryland’s gambling program, among other provisions.

The terms are outlined in a handout that was provided to legislators from Anne Arundel County, who met Tuesday with a representative of the company at the casino located at Arundel Mills mall. A copy of the handout was obtained by The Washington Post.

The overture comes in advance of a special legislation session that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has called for next week to consider both allowing a Prince George’s casino, most likely at National Harbor, as well as table games, such as black jack and roulette, at Maryland’s five existing slots sites.

Cordish officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night. The document also seeks review of draft legislation prior to its broader circulation to ensure the terms are consistent with what Cordish wants.

Among the provisions:

* The state’s tax rate on slots would be lowered at Maryland Live! from 67 percent to 55 percent. The tax rate paid by other facilities would also be lowered but not as much.

* Alternately, Maryland Live! and a planned casino in Baltimore could be “made whole” with tax credits accounting for the revenue they lose due to the increased competition that a Prince George’s facility brings.

* Casino operators, including Cordish, would get an 8 percent increase in the share of their proceeds in exchange for taking over procurement responsibility of slot machines. Under current law, the state buys or leases machines for Maryland casinos.

* Table games would be taxed at 12.5 percent. That is less than the 20 percent suggested by a work group O’Malley pulled together this spring.

* Casino operators in Maryland would be allowed to offer Internet gaming, which would be taxed at 10 percent.

* A casino at National Harbor would not be allowed to open for three years after the planned Baltimore facility opens. That facility is projected to open in mid-2014.

* A Prince George’s facility would be limited to 3,000 slot machines, fewer than the 4,750 authorized at Maryland Live! and 3,750 in Baltimore.

* The state would not be permitted to help pay for any road improvements necessary for a Prince George’s casino.

* Casinos would be allowed to operate 24 hours a day. Under current law, they may stay open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 a.m. the rest of the week.

* The state could not add any additional gambling sites for at least 10 years, and any future changes to the tax rate on casinos would require a super-majority of the legislature.

* The bill introduced in the special session would not be amended. According to the document, “it will either pass or not pass as written.”

By  |  09:40 PM ET, 07/31/2012

 
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