O'Malley Signs Gaming Bill

Gale Horton Gay | 8/15/2012, 1 p.m.

Voters to Decide Prince George's County Casino Issue

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed a controversial bill aimed at bringing gaming expansion in Prince George's County, including construction of a sixth casino and the sanctioning of live table games.

The General Assembly gave its nod just hours before Martin inked his approval on Wednesday to the bill which would also reduce the tax rate casinos pay to the state. The measure, which would allow casinos to be open 24 hours, also makes provisions for tables games like poker and roulette.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker III thanked O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for what he described as a "good bill that was workable."

"The passage of this bill enables the voters of the state and county to have the final say on this important issue," said Baker. "It is important because the expansion of gaming into Prince George's County is about the thousands of new jobs, millions of dollars in revenue to the state and county, and growing the travel and tourism industry in Prince George's County."

Meanwhile, the House 71-58 vote came late on Aug. 14, with the 32-14 Senate vote following about 30 minutes later at 12:15 a.m. on Aug. 15. The second special session of 2012 of the Maryland Legislature has closed.

"What we did was try to produce the best work product that we could coming out of the House," said Del. Frank Turner, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee on gaming, said in an interview.

Now, Maryland voters - many of whom favor placement of the new casino at the National Harbor -- will decide if it all becomes a reality when they flock to the polls on November 6, as both live table games and the casino issue will be on the ballot.