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O'Malley to Announce Decision on Special Session

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Maryland Special Session Announcement Friday

Gov. Martin O'Malley will give an update on his plans for calling a special session to expand gambling in Maryland, the governor's office said Thursday.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch are scheduled to attend the 10 a.m. announcement on Friday in Annapolis.

Raquel Guillory, an O'Malley spokeswoman, declined to say definitively on Thursday whether or when a special session would be called.

However, Busch told reporters on Wednesday he believes the governor has decided to call a special session. The speaker held a meeting with Democratic House leadership to tell them to prepare for one. O'Malley also has been expressing confidence in recent weeks that support will be there to hold a session to settle what he believes has become a distracting issue.

It's unclear when the special session will take place. Sometime in the first half of August has been mentioned.

The O'Malley administration has been working to reach agreement with House members to allow table games such as craps and a new casino site in Prince George's County.

While support for table games and the additional casino has wide support in the Senate, the House has had difficulty reaching an agreement on the Prince George's casino. That's largely because the plan calls for lowering the state's high 67 percent tax rate on gambling revenues. House members have pointed out that Maryland raised income taxes on people who earn more than $100,000 in a special session in May.

Baltimore lawmakers have expressed concern about how an additional casino would affect a planned one in Baltimore.

The plan under consideration would include a provision to allocate gambling revenue to offset losses to Baltimore city and Anne Arundel County from the additional competition.

The Cordish Cos, which owns Maryland's largest casino in Anne Arundel County, has been vehemently opposed to the casino in Prince George's out of concern it would eat into its business.

Voters would need to approve an expansion of gambling, and language must be official by Aug. 20 to put the matter on the November ballot.

MGM Resorts International wants to build an $800 million casino at National Harbor, so long as the state lowers its tax rate on gambling revenue.

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