County execs Baker, Leggett tout Md. gambling plan in new television ad

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) are teamed up in a new television ad urging support for the expanded gambling measure on next month’s ballot in Maryland.

“Question 7 will add table games and a new casino, generating millions of dollars every year without raising taxes,” Baker tells viewers.

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Leggett delivers much the same message, promising “more jobs and millions for schools.”

The ad, airing in the Washington region, is sponsored by a ballot issue committee whose lead funder is MGM Resorts, the company angling to build a casino at National Harbor.

Question 7 would allow a Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s, as well as table games, such as black jack and roulette, at the state’s five previously authorized slots locations.

A new Post poll shows Marylanders sharply split over the measure: Among likely voters, 46 percent say they favor Question 7, while 48 percent say they oppose the measure. Voters in both Prince George’s and Montgomery are split over the ballot issue as well.

Under the measure, the state would take bids for the new casino from a swath of the county that includes both National Harbor, the mini-city on the Potomac River, and Rosecroft Raceway, the harness track in Fort Washington.

Baker has been a champion of the National Harbor site, arguing it is best positioned to attract gamblers from the District, North Virginia and around the country.

Leggett was also supportive of the measure in a special session of the legislature this summer that resulted in putting the plan before voters.

The Baker-Leggett ad is part of a wave of new spots featuring leading politicians who favor the plan. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) also urges support of Question 7, as does former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith (D).

Opponents of the measure argue in television ads that the claims of politicians regarding school funding cannot be trusted.

Those ads are funded by Penn National Gaming, which owns a large-scale casino in Charles Town, W.Va. Analysts say the casino would take a hit if another venue opens in Maryland.

 
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