Prince George’s council tables ban on slots, asks General Assembly to hold referendum on issue

November 15, 2011

The Prince George’s County Council narrowly tabled a measure Tuesday that would effectively ban slot machine gambling in the county and threw the issue back to the state legislature.

Lawmakers who tabled the ban on a 5 to 4 vote said they were not necessarily in favor of slots but wanted local residents to weigh in with a statewide referendum.

By the same tally, the council also approved a resolution, added at the last minute by council Chairman Ingrid Turner (D-Bowie), that urges the General Assembly to set a statewide referendum on Prince George’s slots and then use only the county’s results to determine whether to allow slots there.

The council’s resolution has no legal teeth and passes the decision-making to state legislators. Its plan to condition the approval of slots in the county on the votes of county residents in a statewide referendum is on uncertain legal ground.

In 2008, voters in a statewide referendum approved five sites in Maryland for slots, but Prince George’s was not one of them. That referendum did not include a provision allowing localities to use their local results to trump the statewide approval.

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