Gaming Bill on Senate Floor This Morning, Hearing in House This Afternoon

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee heard and voted on legislation (SB 1) on August 9 that would expand gaming to a sixth site located in Prince George’s County and authorize table games.  According to the bill’s fiscal note, beginning in fiscal 2017 when the sixth site is operational, funding for the Educational Trust Fund will increase by $205.8 million.  The net effect to the State is $200.9 million.

A summary of the legislation can be found in a previous post on Conduit Street.

Key provisions include:

– Table games, such as blackjack and roulette, at existing casinos, to be taxed at a rate of 20 percent.

– Allowing a sixth casino license, to be located in Prince George’s County, with 3,000 slot machines. Both Rosecroft Raceway and the waterfront National Harbor development will be possible locations. The casino would not be allowed to open until July 1, 2016, or 30 months after a Baltimore casino opens, whichever comes first.

– Authorizing a Prince George’s site would be conditional upon a majority of county voters approving the plan when it goes to referendum in November.

– Modifications to the state tax structure so casinos in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County will keep an additional 5 percent of slots proceeds to cover marketing and/or capital improvements to their facilities. Operators of the state’s existing casinos currently keep 33 percent of slots proceeds

– The struggling Casino at Ocean Downs will be allowed to keep 43 percent of their proceeds beginning in July 2013.

– Except at Ocean Downs and the planned casino at the Rocky Gap resort in Allegany County, the ownership of slot machines will transfer from the state to the casino operators. As compensation for the additional costs, operators will keep an additional 6 percent of their proceeds. Currently, cost to the state of purchasing or leasing the machine is equal to about 13 percent of slots revenues.

After nearly 3 hours of testimony and debate, the committee voted the bill favorable 11-1. The Senate will take up the bill on second reader this morning, and most likely suspend the rules to pass the bill on third reader today.

In the House, the gaming bill will be read across the desk when the body convenes at 11 a.m. this morning and heard in the Ways and Means Committee at 1:30 p.m.

Coverage of yesterday’s hearing in the Senate can be found in the following publications:

Salisbury Daily Times
Washington Examiner

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