A bill that would provide more incentives to lure a casino operator to Western Maryland advanced Friday in the Senate in the latest attempt to put slots at the state-financed Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort.
The site was one of five authorized in a 2008 statewide referendum on slots. But after two rounds of bidding, the state has yet to land an interested operator.
The bill that advanced Friday would increase the share of revenue kept by the operator to 50 percent, compared to 33 percent at the other four locations. That higher split would stay in place for a decade.
Another sweetener allows the operator to put slot machines in the lodge itself. The original legislation called for a separate facility.
And the bill would allow the owner of another one of Maryland’s slot casinos to make a play for Rocky Gap as well. Until now, no operator has been allowed to own more than one facility.
Sen. George C. Edwards (R-Garrett), whose district includes Rocky Gap, told his colleagues that the bill could do the trick — and land a casino owner.
“There’s considerable interest if we can get this bill passed here,” Edwards said during initial debate on the Senate floor.
The bill is expected to win approval by the chamber Monday night. It still must pass the House and be signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to become law.
The site is one of the smaller of the five authorized by voters, with up to 1,500 slot machines allowed.