The Prince George’s County Council has been unhappy about proposals to bring gambling to the county, and this week, the nine-member body outlined in a detailed letter all the conditions it would insist on if a statewide referendum leads to approval of gambling in the county.
First and foremost, a council majority wants county voters to have the final say, rather than leaving the decision up to the statewide vote. That could cause legal complications that have yet to be sorted out. Under current practice, if there is a statewide vote and gambling is approved for Prince George’s, the local outcome, even if it is rejection, would not trump the statewide results. However, the council still has the power to use its zoning authority to affect a casino, even after a statewide vote.
“What we are saying is ‘if we have to swallow this,’ this is how we propose to use [the proceeds}, ” said Council Chairman Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale), who led efforts on Tuesday to draft the letter. She also cautioned her council colleagues to refrain from appearing “too argumentative.”
The letter puts council members at odds with County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who is pushing the General Assembly for a variety of changes in the way casino profits are distributed, but he’s not demanding as much for the county share as the council. Here’s the text of the council’s letter: