Special Session on Gambling Seems Likely, Votes Uncertain

As reported by the Baltimore Sun (limited free views available), it is likely that the Governor will call a special session for early August to deal with the issue of expanded gambling in Maryland.  However, it is still not clear whether the votes are there in the House of Delegates to pass such a measure.

After an afternoon meeting with his Democratic leadership team, Busch said he is putting House of Delegates members on notice that they should expect a call to come back to Annapolis soon. The speaker did not specify a date, saying it will be up to O’Malley to make the announcement.

Raquel Guillory, communications director for O’Malley, said the governor’s office would not confirm that report late Wednesday. The governor has said in recent weeks that he hoped to call a special session if it appeared a deal was within reach on issues such as authorizing a casino in Prince George’s County and permitting all of the state’s slots license holders to offer table games.

“I believe the governor has made the determination to go forward,” Busch said. “I’m assuming he believes the votes are there to pass legislation.”

An opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun lists the four conditions that would likely need to be met for legislation to get the necessary votes.

•Prince George’s County voters must signal at the ballot box their approval of a casino at National Harbor.

•The Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County governments (and any others that are affected) must be held harmless from the possibility that competition from a Prince George’s casino would diminish the local aid they receive.

•The operators of the Maryland Live and as-yet unbuilt Baltimore casino would be held harmless from the effects of competition so they remain viable.

•The state’s education trust fund would see a net benefit from the gambling expansion.

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