Gaming Changes in Neighboring States May Influence Maryland to Follow

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Gaming Changes in Neighboring States May Influence Maryland to Follow

Legislators in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware recently permitted casino table gaming at casino facilities in those states. In an effort to keep up with the changing gaming market, the state of Maryland may be next.

Delegate Frank Turner of Howard County and fifteen other delegates, all Democrats from populous locations, have signed on to House Bill 608, which would allow casino table games like craps in Maryland's gaming facilities-places once exclusively deemed to offer slot machines.

But in Worcester County, where Ocean Downs is nearing completion, legislators are not so sure casino table games are an excellent idea. Delegate Jim Mathias (Democrat-38B-Worcester) said on February 9th, 2010 that the issue will need a substantial amount of review and he thinks that conventional wisdom is to implement what the state voters approved in November 2008 and get that going.

The bill would modify Article 19 of the Maryland Constitution, which permits for video lottery terminals at five locations in Maryland. Currently, it does not outline details of the casino games or the amount permitted at each gaming facility.

If approved by the general Assembly-which Delegate Mathias called the "opening chapter to a continuing discussion of gaming"-would need a referendum by voters before it could become an official law.

Worcester County Commission President Bud Church said that he is very worried that permitting casino table games in Maryland would open the door for more changes.

Church said that he thinks that Maryland gaming is just going to expand and expand since the state will try to outdo Delaware and Delaware will try to outdo Pennsylvania. He added that if the states are not careful with their actions, there could be mini-Atlantic Cities everywhere.

Commissioner Judy Boggs said that state voters in Maryland did not cast their ballots for casino facilities. Boggs district, which encompasses most of Ocean Pines, was divided on the slots issue during the 2008 referendum.

Boggs said that when you place casino table games into the gaming mix, it is a different story since casino table games like craps represent "hardcore gaming".


John O'Haver