ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSDC) – The Maryland gambling expansion bill has officially been signed into law by Governor O’Malley after a long, exhaustive special session. Pending voter approval in November, this means a new casino in Prince George’s County, among other changes.
The two chambers of congress struck an accord late Tuesday night in a special session that was called by O’Malley last week. Delegates quibbled over the specifics of the legislation, each side adding and taking away to find just the right combination to earn the 71 votes necessary for a majority vote in the house.
When the 71-58 vote was eventually reached in the House, the bill along with its amendments were then passed to the Senate, which happened just a little after midnight, who then accepted the modifications to the bill 32-14.
One piece of legislation added was the right for VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) halls to carry up to five gaming machines. Of course, this doesn’t allow the general public easier access to slot machines. VFW halls are privately and require membership for entrance. These Veterans halls will be allowed this privilege in every county except for Montgomery County.
The law also allows one new casino to be built, designated specifically for Prince George’s County (exact location to be determined later). Before plans for the new casino move forward though, it will have to be approved by Prince George’s County voters in the November election.
Perhaps the biggest change to Maryland gambling to come from the new signing of the new law is the addition of table games. This means poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, etc. will all be allowed in all Maryland casinos, potentially cutting into the Charles Town and Dover Downs markets.
The casino operators won big with this decision too. Four of the five current casinos, and the planned Prince George’s County casino, won a bigger tax break out of the new deal. The rub for the casinos is that operators now have to purchase their own machines.