Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) spoke out Friday in favor of allowing a new casino in Prince George’s County, saying his counterpart there has “made a very strong case.”
“We have gambling in Maryland,” Leggett said during an appearance on “The Politics Hour” on WAMU 88.5 FM. “We have gambling all over Maryland. And the idea that we cannot in some form accommodate another site in Prince George’s County ... you close the barn after the horses have gone.”
Leggett noted his past opposition to slots but credited Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) for explaining the benefits of an upscale casino that could draw visitors from the Washington region and expand his county’s tax base.
Leggett’s comments came on the same day that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) officially acknowledged that he would not call a special session on gambling next week, as previously advertised.
But O’Malley said he plans to continue to work to build consensus for a plan that could pass both chambers of the General Assembly later this summer.
A working group set up by O’Malley last month floated a proposal to allow both a Prince George’s casino, most likely at National Harbor, as well as Las Vegas-style table games at Maryland’s five existing slots sites. But the plan did not advance because all three members on the working group from the House of Delegates withheld their support.
Leggett’s support for a new casino is potentially significant because it could provide political cover for several House members from Montgomery who have been hesitant to support expanded gambling.
The notion of a Prince George’s casino has been vigorously opposed by owner of the Maryland Live! casino, which opened last month in neighboring Anne Arundel County. The owner, Cordish Cos., has argued that a casino at National Harbor would undercut their ability to draw gamblers from the Washington region.
Separately Friday, Baker met with House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) as part of a continuing effort to advance his case.