Legislator Proposes Md. Gambling Panel

Delegate Eric Luedtke wants members of both chambers to oversee proposed Gaming Control Agency

Sunday, Aug 12, 2012  |  Updated 4:03 PM EDT
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The full Maryland Senate considered bills regarding pit bulls and expanded gambling Friday. News4's Derrick Ward reports.

Derrick Ward

The full Maryland Senate considered bills regarding pit bulls and expanded gambling Friday. News4's Derrick Ward reports.

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A Maryland lawmaker said Saturday he will propose changing a measure to create a joint House and Senate panel to oversee gambling.

Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, indicated his plans during a meeting with about a dozen members of the House of Delegates. Luedtke said he will submit the proposal on Monday, when delegates come back to work during a special session.

The measure to allow table games and a casino in Prince George's County would reshape the State Lottery Agency as a new State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Members would be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Delegate Frank Turner, D-Howard, said that's a concern, because the measure doesn't currently include House input on the matter.

"We need to be a part of that process,'' Turner said.

A House subcommittee met for about 90 minutes to hear details about the legislation. The Senate passed the bill 28-14 on Friday, the second day of the special session. The measure faces more challenging prospects in the House, where a similar bill stalled in the regular 90-day session this year.

In addition to allowing table games like blackjack and a Prince George's casino, which could not open until 2016, the measure makes a variety of changes to gambling policy in Maryland. For example, it would allow casinos to be open 24 hours. Casinos are now allowed to be open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 am. on weekends.

A state analyst told the subcommittee that the longer hours could raise an estimated 5 percent more revenue. The impact in the current fiscal year would be about $17.4 million in gross revenues. That goes up to $39.3 million in fiscal year 2014 and $64 million in fiscal year 2015. Gross revenues from 24-hour operation would jump to $68.8 million in fiscal year 2016 and $85.3 million in fiscal year 2017.

Maryland law currently allows five casino sites. Three have opened in Hanover, Berlin and Perryville. Licenses have been awarded for a casino in Baltimore and at the Rocky Gap Lodge and Resort in western Maryland.

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