Prince George's County casino legislation makes one last push

Protesters gathered in Upper Marlboro to protest the expansion of gambling. Photo: Mark Segraves

Another delay has thrown a wrench into the drive to expand gambling into Prince George's County, leaving state officials with just one month to act on what would be Maryland's sixth casino.

Friday was supposed to be the day that many people in Maryland expected Gov. Martin O'Malley to release proposed legislation that would expand gambling statewide, but a spokesperson says that his proposal won't be ready until next week.

O'Malley has until Aug. 20 to call for a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to discuss a measure that would eventually go to the voters in November. If lawmakers don't meet, the gambling issue would be derailed until 2014.

For those who want gambling in the state, the wait is becoming increasingly tenuous. However, for the protesters who gathered at the Prince George's County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro on Friday, they could stand to let the deadline pass.

"We are a family-friendly community and we don't want it," gambling opponent Geron Levi said.

Levi and about another dozen people got together to let officials know that despite the promises of new jobs and more tax revenue, they don't want gambling in the county.

"We do not need that kind of so-called 'economic development' for Prince George's County," Rev. Jonathan Weaver of the Mt. Nebo AME Church in Bowie said.

On the flip side, supporters of expanded gambling in the state point to the immediate success of the Maryland Live! Casino in Anne Arundel County. It's one of five casinos in the state that have already been approved for slots.

However, this new legislation from O'Malley includes not only the potential for a casino at National Harbor but also paves the way for the introduction of table games.

"National Harbor was a great addition and I'm sure the casino would be an even bigger tourist attraction," county resident Bernard Manning said.