Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) plans to make available draft legislation on expanded gambling as early as Friday so that lawmakers can get a better handle on what is being proposed.
That pledge emerged Wednesday during a meeting with delegates from Baltimore, whose votes could be key to the outcome of a possible special session on legislation allowing a full-fledged Prince George’s County casino, most likely at National Harbor, and table games at Maryland’s five existing slots sites.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), who has been supportive of O’Malley’s efforts, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) also attended the closed-door meeting in Baltimore.
O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said the draft legislation comes in response to “issues and concerns” O’Malley has heard in recent weeks as he weighs whether to call a special session.
“We’ll see if this addresses some of the concerns,” Guillory said.
Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore), chairman of his city’s House delegation, said he is eager to see exactly what O’Malley is talking about. At Wednesday’s meeting, for example, O’Malley indicated that local jurisdictions that host casinos, including Baltimore, would be “held harmless” by the introduction of a new site in Prince George’s, Anderson said.
“I want to see in writing what it is that will hold us harmless,” Anderson said.
The issue of a new casino has been a prickly one for delegates from Baltimore.
Caesars Entertainment, which is expected to get a state license this month to operate a casino in the city, has supported earlier versions of an expanded gambling plan that allowed a Prince George’s facility. Despite the additional competition, Caesars has said it likes other aspects of those plans, including the legalization of table games and lower tax rates for operators.
Still, Baltimore delegates remain wary about the impact a Prince George’s casino could have on one in their home jurisdiction. Rawlings-Blake has pledged her support for O’Malley’s efforts to hold a special session on expanded gambling.
Anderson said the Baltimore delegation is planning to meet again Wednesday.
There is strong support for an expanded gambling plan in the Senate. Busch has long said such proposals are a harder sell in the House.