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Maryland Senate Gives Preliminary OK to Gambling Bill

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    TK
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    The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to expanding gambling to allow table games like blackjack and a new casino near the nation's capital.

    The Senate, which took a recess on Friday until 6 p.m., planned to take a vote in the evening.

    Senators spent much of the afternoon rejecting amendments, including one that would have lifted a provision in the bill to ban political contributions from casino owners.

    Gov. Martin O'Malley included the ban in the measure he submitted to the Legislature. The governor wanted it to apply to contributions from casino owners and certain employees of gambling companies, but a Senate committee changed the provision to include people with 5 percent ownership in a casino.

    The Senate also rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Nancy Jacobs that would have raised impact grants in Allegany, Cecil and Worcester counties from $200,000 to $400,000. Jacobs, a Republican who represents the part of Cecil County where the Perryville casino is located, said the additional money is needed because the community has lost money from a decline in business since the state's largest casino opened in Anne Arundel County.

    But Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, said the Anne Arundel County casino only just opened in June, and it's too soon to know whether the changes will be long lasting.