The new facility would most likely rise at National Harbor, the 300-acre mini-city on the banks of the Potomac River. Other locations nearby would also be permitted to bid.
“I believe the governor has made that determination to go forward,” House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) told reporters after a private meeting with House Democratic leaders late Wednesday afternoon.
That assessment was confirmed afterward by several aides to O’Malley (D), who said the session will probably start between Aug. 8 and 13, and last a few days.
Any expansion legislation passed in the session would require voter approval in November.
Though an expanded gambling plan enjoys broad support in the Senate, it has been a tough sell in the House of Delegates. Rounding up the needed votes could still provide a challenge for O’Malley.
“I don’t know how the governor would know if the votes are there,” said Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore), who is the chairman of the city’s delegation in the House. “It’s a big gamble, pardon the pun.”
Aides to O’Malley have said in recent days that he is willing to risk failure in a special session in order to put the issue behind him for the remaining two years of his term.
Joseph C. Bryce, O’Malley’s chief lobbyist, said Wednesday night that a majority of delegates can be won over given the revenue at stake for the state and the jobs that would be created.
“The governor would not be doing it without the expectation that he gets the votes with the help of the speaker,” Bryce said.
Plans for a Prince George’s casino have collapsed twice in recent months, both times with resistance coming from the House. On the final night of this year’s regular legislative session, a Senate-approved bill stalled in the House amid brinksmanship between the two chambers over budget legislation.
A work group convened by O’Malley subsequently floated a similar plan that failed when three House members who participated withheld their support, citing a concern about cutting taxes on casino owners so soon after raising them on six-figure earners. The five O’Malley appointees and three senators on the panel supported the plan.
Since then, O’Malley — who stood on the sidelines during the regular-session debate, calling gambling “a distraction” — has redoubled efforts to pass a bill.
The issue has strained his relationship with Busch, who has shown limited enthusiasm for the issue, while helping his standing with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), one of the legislature’s chief gambling advocates.