Meanwhile, fundraising records have provided the first glimpse of how much is being spent in a battle over same-sex marriage. The lead group advocating passage of Question 6 — to uphold a state law that allows gay couples to wed starting in January — reported late Friday having raised about $3.3 million.
The lead group opposing the law said it had raised $838,621 so far. The totals are expected to grow in coming weeks as both sides increasingly try to sway voters through television ads.
All told, money raised by the dueling campaigns on gambling has exceeded by a ratio of 10 to 1 that raised by all parties with an interest in the same-sex marriage battle.
“The difference is there are big, big economic interests involved in the gaming issue,” said state House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery), who supports both ballot proposals. “But I hope people don’t interpret this to mean marriage equality is any less important than whether there are slot machines in Prince George’s County.”
Other reports due Friday showed $1.5 million raised by the campaign to legalize the state’s version of the Dream Act. Approval of Question 4 would allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain conditions to pay reduced, in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. Opponents did not report raising any money.
Also on the ballot is a question about whether the state’s congressional redistricting map should be scrapped.
Maryland voters will decide an unusual number of momentous cultural and economic questions on a single day next month.
Lawmakers have required more-frequent fundraising reports on the gambling measure than the others, so the high stakes had already become apparent for Question 7. Besides a Prince George’s casino, it would allow Las Vegas-style table games, such as blackjack and roulette, at the state’s five previously authorized slots sites. Last week’s reports showed that spending continuing to escalate.
MGM Resorts, which is angling to build a casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s, is by far the biggest-spending proponent, having given $17.4 million to the ballot-issue committee known as For Maryland Jobs & Schools.
Several other companies have contributed, including the Peterson Cos., developer of National Harbor, which has given $1.3 million, and a group led by Caesars Entertainment, which has given $3.4 million. Caesars is building a casino in Baltimore and wants to offer table games.
The only major funder of the opposition so far has been Penn National Gaming, which has reported giving $25.1 million to a ballot-issue committee called Get the Facts — No on 7.