June 21, 2012

State Roundup, June 21, 2012

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NO CONSENSUS ON GAMBING: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that a state panel considering whether to expand gambling unanimously recommended a series of sweeping changes to the state’s gambling law, but split 8-3 on the critical questions of whether to allow a sixth casino in Prince George’s County and whether to change the current 67% tax rate on slot machine revenues, likely ending the possibility of a special General Assembly session on the issue this summer.

Chairman John Morton said the group’s three members from the House of Delegates voted against allowing the casino and against lowering tax rates on casino operators, reports Earl Kelly for the Capital-Gazette.

Lindsey McPherson of the Laurel Leader reports that Del. Sheila Hixon said, “The tax rate was very difficult,” then noted that the state just raised taxes on a large number of residents when it held a special session to increase income tax rates for six-figure earners.

Gov. Martin O’Malley told reporters in Baltimore yesterday afternoon that the objections of House members “didn’t make a lot of sense” and came as a surprise, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Gazette.

Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports that the state also threw cold water on suggestions that the idea of building a Frederick casino was floating around Annapolis.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV speaks with Comptroller Peter Franchot about the situation.

Count State Comptroller Franchot as a state official pleased by the workgroup considering expanded gambling’s failure to reach consensus, writes Alexander Pyles in the Daily Record.

The Post’s John Wagner blogs about the day with updates.

FIXING GAMBLING: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com takes a look at the contentious history that brought gambling to Maryland, writing that it’s time to fix the mistakes of the past – in January.

GOOD GRIEF: Center Maryland posts a reader’s repurposed Charlie Brown-style cartoon and writes about the embarrassing events of the day. (CenterMaryland is a nonprofit operation run by Kearney & O’Doherty Public Affairs, which represents MGM casinos.)

PG CASINO DEAD OR NOT? MGM Resorts International still wants to build a casino at National Harbor resort, despite the casino work group’s failure to agree on an expansion of gaming in the state, Gary Haber reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

But Ben Giles of the Washington Examiner reports that the planned Prince George’s County casino that was projected to help the state draw an extra $223 million a year appeared dead yesterday after the work group recommended against a special session to expand gambling in the state.

John Wagner of the Post also reports that the renewed bid to put a casino in Prince George’s County collapsed in stunning fashion.

Kai Reed of WBAL-TV reports that the Prince George’s casino is dead and gets reaction from the Cordish Cos.

CASINO CONFLICT: The Washington Times’ Jim McElhatton follows up on Marta Mossburg’s Sun column yesterday concerning questions over ties between the consulting firm hired by Prince George’s to study the area casino market and Gaylord Entertainment, which developed the National Harbor complex. County officials hired a Pennsylvania firm to analyze the local market for gambling. That firm lists Gaylord Entertainment among its clients.

TABLE GAME JOBS: Legalizing table games in Maryland is estimated to create 1,880 jobs, and could add another 400 if the state authorizes a casino in Prince George’s County, according to a report released yesterday by the state’s Department of Legislative Services, James Bach reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

SWEET DEAL: Evitts Resorts LLC, which bought the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort from the state, is getting a great deal, writes the editorial board for the Sun. The government (mostly the state) is writing off in the neighborhood of $55 million, and private investors are taking a $26 million hit. Evitts, in turn, is putting up less than $7 million in cash to buy a 220-room lodge and 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that originally cost $54 million to develop.

The ailing, state-financed lodge was identified in 2007 by lawmakers as a desired slots location but was slow to attract bidders to build an adjacent casino, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

DREAM EDUCATION: Defenders of the state’s Dream Act say voter education will be key to their success in November, when Marylanders weigh-in on a new law that lets some illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

YOUNG’S BUCKS: Gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young (R) said he raised nearly half of his goal at his first fundraiser two weeks ago and, if he doesn’t raise the rest, is dropping his bid for governor at the end of the year, Katherine Heerbrant reports in the Gazette.

HOW TO FUNDRAISE: The secret to raising money for a political campaign is as simple as it is difficult, writes Katherine Heerbrant in the Gazette. “Ask,” said Alex Mooney, now head of the Maryland Republican Party, who won three terms as state senator and set fundraising records along the way.

O’MALLEY & OBAMA: In a long, insult-laden diatribe, J. Doug Gill in Red Maryland compares Gov. O’Malley and President Obama.

MEDEVAC GRANT: The Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to grant $500,000 more to Medevac helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland despite prolonged protest from a citizen who insisted the state is getting cheated, writes Dana Amihere for MarylandReporter.com.