Prince George's County Executive wants special session for gambling expansion
By John Henrehan, FOX 5 Reporter
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -
Despite the lack of consensus from a state study group on the issue of expanded gaming, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker is calling on Gov. Martin O'Malley to convene a special session of the state legislature. That session would decide whether Maryland should move forward with a plan to expand its five gaming parlors to six.
Baker wants that sixth venue to be at the National Harbor development along the Potomac River.
"Help us find new revenues," Baker said to reporters in Upper Marlboro.
A destination gambling resort envisioned at National Harbor would generate about $69 million a year for the county government.
But there are a lot of moving parts to a proposed expansion of gambling. For example, part of a grand bargain was a lowering of the taxes the state takes from casino revenues. Currently, Maryland insists on taking 67 percent of each dollar spent at the state's three casinos. (Two more parlors are in the pipeline.)
To compensate the casino owners for a diluted customer base (with a sixth license), the proposal was to cut the tax take to 52 percent.
But in a year when Maryland's legislature raised taxes on wealthy families, some politicians balked at cutting taxes for casinos.
So far, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has not indicated whether he will call a special session of the legislature without the consensus of the study group.