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Published on August 6th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, August 6, 2012

CASINO WANTS TO RETURN 400 SLOTS: Hollywood Casino Perryville wants to return 400 to 500 slot machines to the Maryland State Lottery by the end of this year, citing a 30% drop in year-over-year revenue for July, Cheryl Mattix reports in the Cecil Whig.

Bill Hayles, vice president and general manager of the first slots casino to open in Maryland, said the Cecil County facility, built and owned by Penn National Gaming, is generating far less money than the state estimated in 2008, and he believes the current loss of business could snowball into even further loss of customer traffic, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

SLOTS REVENUE SHORTFALL: The Sun’s Luke Broadwater reports that last year, as slot-machine proceeds began to flow into state coffers, residents of one Baltimore City neighborhood hoped its $2 million cut would be enough to make a difference. As casinos got off to a slow start, the state delivered only about a quarter of the slots money it initially pledged — and eliminated the other funding for the community near Pimlico Race Course in a round of belt-tightening.

A LONGER SESSION? Some veteran lawmakers said the General Assembly special session could last a week, writes Earl Kelly for the Capital-Gazette. The session, set to start Thursday, tackles a complicated gambling bill. And Del. Curt Anderson, a subcommittee chairman in the House Judiciary Committee, said it may take Gov. Martin O’Malley some time to round up enough votes in the House to get it passed.

NO HOUSE TIL FRIDAY: The Maryland House of Delegates won’t convene for a special session on expanded gambling until Friday, one day after the session is set to begin, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

QUID PRO QUO: In the meantime, Baltimore City delegates are looking for concessions in return for their votes in favor of expanding gambling in Maryland, reports Ben Giles for the Washington Examiner.

WHERE’S THE BILL? Gov. Martin O’Malley has yet to release the bill that will be considered when the session opens Thursday. While the broad strokes are known — authorization of a Prince George’s County casino and Las Vegas-style table games — many key details are not, the Post’s John Wagner reports. That has not made vote-counting easy.

PIT BULLS ADDED: House Speaker Michael Busch told members that they will debate legislation addressing a recent court decision on liability from pit bulls in addition to the higher-profile issue of expanding gambling in Maryland, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

Del. Curt Anderson, a co-chairman of a task force that has examined the ruling, said the bill will seek to remove landlord liability for dog bites. Instead, according to an AP story in the Daily Record, the measure will seek to put liability for bites by any type of dog on their owners.

DELEGATE-REPORTER SESSION: Reporters and state delegates joined Marc Steiner on WEAA-FM to discuss the next special session on gaming. List to the broadcast here.

INTERNET GAMBLING: Key senators on the committee that handles casino-related matters rejected the notion of taking up the issue of Internet gambling during the next special session, saying there isn’t enough time to weigh the implications of a step that could, in effect, put slot machines in Maryland homes, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

RECKLESS ON INTERNET GAMBLING: The Sun editorial board writes that it’s unwise that the General Assembly will be considering the expansion of Maryland’s gambling program to a sixth casino before its five existing slots parlors is up and running. But the idea of legalizing Internet gambling at the same time — with little opportunity for public debate or due diligence by legislators, and no precedent from other states — is downright reckless.

UP TO THE VOTERS: In his column in the Gazette, Laslo Boyd takes aim at the notion of trying to fix the state’s ills with a constitutionally required a public vote on gaming.

SOME EMERGENCY: And KAL, tooning for the Sun, asks: Is this really an emergency in need of a special session.

BETTING ON COMMERCIALS: Competing gambling interests have taken to the airwaves to get their messages out, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

MILLIONS IN TAKE-HOME CARS: Jayne Miller reports for WBAL-TV that, across 36 state agencies, 1,284 state employees have take-home cars at a cost of $3.9 million a year in fuel, maintenance and insurance. What’s not included in that number is the 1,550 state troopers who take marked police cars home, giving many communities a welcomed police presence.

DREAM ACT MARCH: Several hundred students, parents and others marched 3.5 miles to Wheaton yesterday to show their support for Maryland’s Dream Act, reports the Post’s Ted Trautman.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FUNDS: The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay-rights lobby, is set to announce today an additional $1 million in spending on same-sex marriage ballot measures this fall, with $250,000 going to Maryland, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

BOATERS LEAVE MARYLAND: Boat sales in Maryland are lagging and boat slips are remaining empty because of a state excise tax that some marina owners say pushes people to purchase in tax-free Delaware or in Virginia, where there’s a 2% tax and a $2,000 tax cap, writes Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette. In next year’s General Assembly, the Marine Trades Association of Maryland hopes to propose a bill to cap the tax.

CRAB RULES: State regulators and crabbers must come up with better ways to regulate crabbing to ensure a good harvest this year and every year after, opines Tom Horton in the Sun op-ed pages.

O’MALLEY CALLS UP KATRINA: Appearing in New Orleans on Saturday, Gov. Martin O’Malley sought to make the case for President Obama’s re-election during a speech that was laced with references to Hurricane Katrina, blogs John Wagner for the Post.

His New Orleans visit is the latest in a string of Democratic money events for O’Malley, who has tended to his national profile this summer while also reaching out to lawmakers to push a gambling expansion legislation for this week’s special session, writes the Sun’s Annie Linskey.

6th DISTRICT RACE: For some analysts, the 6th Congressional District race is all but over for incumbent Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. Last week, several national, independent political reporting firms moved the race from “leans” Democratic to “likely” Democratic, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com.

ACTION TOO FAR: The Frederick County Commissioners — four of them, anyway — were elected on a platform that included overturning a number of controversial downzonings in the county’s 20-year land-use plan. But, write the editorial board for the Frederick News Post, this commission has taken that mandate and run with it, maybe further than even some ardent advocates might be comfortable with.

CLOSED MEETINGS: When the Anne Arundel County Council struggled through a hundred rounds of tied votes while replacing former councilman Daryl Jones, there were times councilmen wished they could figure things out off the dais, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette. Just one problem: Nothing in the County Charter allows for a closed session. But that might change tonight.

LEOPOLD TRIAL RESET: The criminal trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, has been rescheduled for January, after his defense attorney said last week that more time is needed to gather information on how other elected officials in Maryland use their security teams, writes Andrea Siegel in the Sun.

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