Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, center, receives applause from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, left, and Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael Busch, right, after delivering his State of the State speech Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 in Annapolis, Md. O'Malley urged lawmakers to invest in the future to spur job growth. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
Today’s the day. The long-awaited special legislative session in Maryland to expand gambling in the state is finally here.
Gov. Martin O’Malley said his proposed measure would be a big money generator for the state and allow Maryland to be more competitive with neighboring states that have gambling. But he added Tuesday night, likely sharing this sentiment with much of the state, “I’m so sick of gambling.”
Specifically, his 55-page bill would legalize table games and allow for a new casino site in Prince George’s County. It would also lower the state’s 67 percent tax rate on gambling proceeds, loosen gambling restrictions at a casino on the Eastern Shore and ban political contributions from gambling entities, according to the AP.
The bill is expected to easily pass the Senate but will likely face troubles in the House.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the bill Thursday afternoon. The Committee could pass the bill on to the Senate as early as this afternoon and the House could get the bill by Friday.
Existing casinos in the state have expressed concerns over O’Malley’s proposed legislation.
The owner of Maryland’s largest casino, Maryland Live!, said O’Malley’s bill is “patently unfair,” arguing, according to the Post, that a casino in Prince George’s County would hurt its newly opened casino in Arundel County.
The bill does take some of this increased competition into account and allows both casinos to keep an additional 5 percent of slot revenue. The casinos are also expected to generate additional revenue from table games.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board warned Wednesday of the drawbacks of expanded gambling, citing Hollywood Casino in Perryville’s drop in revenue since Maryland Live! opened in June.
The Sun asked: If the Perryville casino is getting hammered by competition from Maryland Live, what would happen if we expand gambling even more?
They should resist the push to expand the state's gambling program before the existing one has had a chance to develop.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot urged O'Malley and legislative leaders Wednesday to voluntarily disclose any political donations they've received from "national gambling interests" since their last campaign finance reports were filed, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The special session is also expected to consider a bill to reconsider a state court ruling that defines pit bulls as "inherently dangerous."
IN OTHER NEWS:
* The D.C. Board of Elections ruled Wednesday that activists did not collect enough valid signatures to put the measure to ban corporate contributions to D.C. political campaigns on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
* A Gallup poll said Maryland is the fourth most Democratic state in the nation.
* Loose Lips has the letter to the editor the District’s Office of the CFO wrote to the Post after yesterday’s big investagitve story reported that the CFO's office "knocked $2.6 billion off the taxable value of commercial properties.”
* Fairfax schools are pushing for more healthful food
* A D.C. resident ordered a TV on Amazon, but received a gun instead.
Greater Greater Washington asks how else the District’s traffic camera program can improve safety.
* Crossroads latest attack ad against Kaine: