House leaders press for Tuesday night casino vote

Update, 6 p.m.: The House has adopted an amendment to the gambling bill that would allow more gaming devices similar to slot machines at halls of veterans organizations.

An amendment was rejected that would split a proposed ballot issue in two: one on a Prince George’s casino, the other on table games. Under the bill as it stands, the entire expanded gambling plan would be subject to a single vote in November.

Update, 4:25 p.m.: The House has just convened. Lawmakers are starting with a bill on liability for pit bull owners.

Update, 3:45 p.m.: Among the issues being discussed behind closed doors is whether to accept an amendment that would expand the number of veterans halls that can offer a limited number of devices similar to slot machines, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.

Update, 3 p.m.: One hour after the House was scheduled to convene, the session has not started. House leaders still appear to be trying to nail down votes for the gambling bill.


Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch leads the Pledge of Allegiance during a floor session last year. (Marvin Joseph — The Washington Post)

Original post: Leaders of the Maryland House of Delegates say they are pressing ahead with plans to debate and take a final vote Tuesday on an expanded gambling legislation introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

The debate on the amended House version of the bill is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., with a vote expected this evening, lawmakers said.

The bill would allow a Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s, as well as table games, such as blackjack and roulette, at Maryland’s five existing slots locations.

The House has balked at similar legislation before, but House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) told reporters Monday “if we didn’t think we had the votes, we wouldn’t be here.”

Both Democrats and Republican huddled behind closed doors earlier Tuesday to talk about the bill, while a coalition of labor groups held a news conference to tout the jobs that would come with a new Prince George’s casino.

Check back here for more as the debate unfolds.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.

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