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Maryland Politics
Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 08/08/2012

Cordish slams O’Malley gambling plan as ‘patently unfair;’ Penn National Gaming also has concerns

The owner of Maryland’s largest casino on Wednesday said that gambling expansion legislation proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is “patently unfair.”


David S. Cordish, chairman of The Cordish Cos., at the casino’s opening in June..(Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post)
For months, the Cordish Cos. has fought plans for a new casino in Prince George’s County, arguing it would hurt Maryland Live!, its facility in neighboring Anne Arundel County that opened in June.

O’Malley’s bill, which was made public Tuesday night, includes several provisions intended to compensate Cordish and a planned casino in Baltimore for the new competition.

Both casinos would get to keep an additional 5 percent of slots revenue, up from 33 percent now. And all Maryland slots operators would also be allowed to offer table games, such as black jack and roulette, and keep 80 percent of the revenue.

O’Malley, whose plan will be weighed in a special legislative session starting Thursday, told reporters Wednesday that he thinks the bill is fair and should “maximize” revenue to the state.

But in a statement, Joe Weinberg, managing partner of Cordish, made clear he thinks the bill’s provisions fall well short of what is needed to protect a facility in which Cordish says it invested more than $500 million and is drawing heavily from the Washington region.

“We have played by the rules created by the state, and never asked for any concession or break,” Weinberg said. “We delivered a world-class facility that is already generating tens of millions of dollars of taxes for the state monthly, as promised. ... As currently drafted, the proposed legislation is patently unfair to impacted operators and not in the best interests of the state, because it will undermine the health of the industry and negatively affect state tax revenues.

Separately, a spokeswoman for Penn National Gaming, which has one casino in Maryland and is interested in another, said Wednesday that her company has concerns about the legislation.

The bill would invite bids for the new casino from a swath of Prince George’s that includes both National Harbor and Rosecroft Raceway, which Penn owns.

Penn spokeswoman Karen Bailey says the company remains concerned about whether there will be “a level and fair playing field,” given Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has openly championed a site at National Harbor.

“We’ve expressed that concern since it became obvious that the location was settled for National Harbor, given the manner in which the county executive has unilaterally endorsed the location and the governor has followed suit,” Bailey said.

Bailey said Penn is also concerned that the Maryland casino it currently owns, Hollywood Casino Perryville, would be the only facility not to receive targeted tax relief under O’Malley’s plan.

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 08/08/2012

 
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