A state lawyer has advised Maryland lawmakers that they are on strong legal ground to expand the state’s gambling program over any objections of previously licensed casino owners.
A copy of the confidential letter was made available to The Post on the eve of the first meeting of a work group that will examine the wisdom of allowing a new casino in Prince George’s County and Las Vegas-style table games at the state’s five existing slots locations.
Del. Justin D. Ross (D-Prince George’s) said he requested the advice after reading several representations made by officials with the Cordish Cos., the developer of Maryland Live!, a casino scheduled to open next week in Anne Arundel County.
Cordish officials have argued that adding a casino in neighboring Prince George’s would violate “a deal” the company had with the state.
The letter to Ross, written by Dan Friedman, counsel to the General Assembly, essentially says there is no legal problem with such an expansion.
Friedman’s letter notes that a constitutional amendment approved by Maryland voters in 2008 includes a provision that outlines the process for expanding the state’s gambling program.
Friedman writes that “no licensee can be surprised by the possible expansion of commercial gaming in Maryland” and says the state’s defense in a lawsuit would be “remarkably strong.”
The 11-member work group, appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and legislative leaders, is scheduled to hold its first meeting Friday morning. O’Malley has said he will call a special session if a consensus plan can be developed.