August 7, 2012

State Roundup, August 7, 2012

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CASINOS’ TAKE: Maryland’s largest casino continued to perform strongly during its second month of operation, generating $35.4 million, following reports that gross revenue tumbled last month at its closest competitor – the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, the Post’s John Wagner blogs.

Maryland Live, Hollywood Casino Perryville and Casino at Ocean Downs combined to take in $48.1 million in revenue in July. Hollywood Casino generated $6.9 million in revenue, while Ocean Downs in Worcester County earned $5.8 million in revenue, reports Jack Lambert for the Baltimore Business Journal.

DUMPING SLOTS: The Hollywood Casino, which currently has 1,500 machines, intends to return 400 to 500 of those to the state, which owns the machines, by the end of the year, writes Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.

Joe Weinberg, a vice president at the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., which operates Maryland Live, says Hollywood’s announcement shows the Maryland market is already saturated and cannot sustain another mega casino in Prince George’s County, John Rydell reports for WBFF-TV.

‘SLEAZY’ CALL: The fight to bring another casino to Maryland, this time to Prince George’s County, takes a “sleazy” turn when a telephone caller purports to be from Del. Sandy Rosenberg’s campaign pushing the project. But Rosenberg tells Michael Dresser of the Sun that he remains undecided about the casino.

GAMBLING PROBLEM: Daniel Menefee of the Chestertown Spy reports in “an analysis” of state gambling that it will likely impoverish, not enrich residents of Maryland.

MACO MINORITY CAUCUS: Howard County Council member Calvin Ball, in conjunction with the Maryland Association of Counties, is starting a statewide minority caucus for county elected officials, reports Lindsey McPherson for the Howard County Times. “This caucus is an innovative opportunity to unite and empower people of color to create positive change in communities throughout Maryland, together,” he said.

ANTI-BULLYING EFFORTS: Although the state’s anti-bullying laws are considered among the nation’s best, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s wife acknowledged that the state is still fighting to clamp down on bullying, Lisa Gartner reports for the Washington Examiner. Last year, 4,678 bullying incidents were reported in Maryland, a number that’s been climbing since the state enacted a 2005 that that requires school districts to report bullying incidents and created complaint forms for victims.

SMART METERS & RATE HIKES: Pat Furgurson of the Capital-Gazette opines that couple of weeks ago a BGE smart meter was installed at his house. He asked if it would cost anything. “It won’t cost you a thing,” the contractor answered. A few days later, BGE applied for a rate hike with the Maryland Public Service Commission. The two aren’t directly related, but, Furgurson writes, from a wary customer’s view, it seems fishy.

ACCESS FOR HUNTERS: Jeremy Cox of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that a leafy expanse of southwestern Worcester County that was once a timber operation is now in the crosshairs of a debate between state forestry officials and hunters over public access.

TAX-FREE WEEK: Maryland state Comptroller Peter Franchot is promoting the upcoming week of tax-free shopping, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

“We believe this plays a big role in jump-starting fall shopping,” Caleb Calhoun of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail quotes Franchot as saying. “It gets people out of summer vacation mode.”

MACO CONFERENCE: About 1,800 local and state officials are expected to attend the Maryland Association of Counties’ summer conference next week in Ocean City, reports the Gazette’s Margie Hyslop.

O’MALLEY BACKS BROWN: Yesterday, Gov. O’Malley made his support for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown a little more vocal with an e-mail to supporters in which he says that “no matter what lies ahead for Anthony in public service, I know that I will be with him 100 percent,” John Wagner writes in the Post.

The message does not say what office Brown might be seeking next, writes the Sun’s Annie Linskey. Although Brown is considering a run for governor.

Bryan Sears of Patch.com reports that Brown is raising campaign cash and is expected to deliver the keynote speech next week at the Maryland Association of Counties Convention – a speech typically delivered by the sitting governor.

O’MALLEY BOOKED AT HARKIN FUNDER: Gov. O’Malley is booked next month as the “special guest” at an annual political event in Iowa, a move certain to further talk of his 2016 national ambitions, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

The Sun’s Annie Linskey writes that O’Malley will be attending the 35th annual Iowa “steak fry” – a fund-raiser for Democratic Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, an all-day event that set for Sept. 16 with a “suggested contribution” of $5,000.

STATE PRUCHASING: Gov. Martin O’Malley has said that he wants to review the state’s procurement practices to find a better, more efficient system, and the chair of House of Delegates government operations subcommittee, Del. Dan Morhaim, said that while the suggestion comes late in the governor’s term, it’s “better late than never,” Dana Amiehere writes in MarylandReporter.com.