A new legal challenge could put casino plans in jeopardy, despite the passage of Maryland's Question 7 referendum to expand gambling in the state. News4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins explains why some area residents are suing.
After voters in Maryland approved the Question 7 referendum to expand gambling, a new legal challenge could put casino plans in jeopardy.
A community next to National Harbor in Prince George’s County – a proposed location for a sixth Maryland casino – is suing Gov. Martin O’Malley and others.
“We were here first,” resident Joyce Thorpe said. “This is an old, established community.”
When the Fort Washington residents say “Not in my back yard,” it’s as literal as it gets.
The community is filled with thousands of homes and people who are worried about what a casino is going to mean for them
“We don’t like it one bit,” resident Bonnie Bick said. “We are very upset.”
When residents found out that there was a possibility of stopping the expansion of gaming and a new casino in Prince George’s County on a technicality, they filed a civil suit naming the attorney general and O’Malley among others.
“Our community is the host of National Harbor, and we were promised that the residential quality of life would be protected,” Bick said.
The suit challenging Question 7 alleges that the Maryland Attorney General’s Office misinterpreted the state constitution when it said the majority of those who voted could pass Question 7. Tom Dernoga, the attorney filing the suit, says it takes the majority of qualified voters in Maryland to pass a constitutional amendment, including those who didn’t show up to vote.
“I think the attorney general is all over the board on this, and at the end of the day, it really comes down to the people protecting their community,” Dernoga said. “As much as they don’t like gaming, what they are really concerned about is a casino in their neighborhood.”
The people who live in the community said they were just getting used to National Harbor, but the thought of a casino that that they weren’t expecting is more than they can bear.
“We were made promises, and these promises have been not kept,” Bick said.