The Washington Post

Measure to open casino jobs to criminal offenders wins final passage in Md.

Students make bets on the roulette table during class at the Maryland Live! casino school in February. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

The Maryland Senate sent a measure to the governor Wednesday that would stop automatically disqualifying applicants for casino jobs who have committed “crimes of moral turpitude” or gambling offenses at any time in their past.

The legislation, which limits automatic denial to those convicted, paroled or placed on probation in the previous seven years, would be among the most lenient in the country — though gaming regulators would still have the opportunity to deny licenses whenever they think it’s appropriate.

Most employees — from cashiers and craps dealers to bartenders and those who bus tables — have to be licensed to work at Maryland casinos, which are expanding dramatically and adding thousands of jobs across the state.

The House and Senate had passed similar measures earlier in Maryland’s 90-day legislative session. On Wednesday, the Senate voted unanimously to approve the House version of the legislation.

The bill was introduced on behalf of city officials in Baltimore, where the Horseshoe casino is expected to employ 1,700 people when it opens in 2014 — and where more than half of Maryland’s ex-offenders return from prison each year and often struggle to find employment.

The legislation overcame some resistance in the House last month from lawmakers who questioned if it would be appropriate for people with criminal records to be in facilities where large amounts of cash changes hands.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
J. Freedom du Lac is the editor of The Post's general assignment news desk. He was previously a Local enterprise reporter and, before that, the paper’s pop music critic.

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