Maryland gambling Question 7 passes

Photo: John Morgan/Flickr

United States of America:
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District of Columbia: Washington
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With campaign signs still lining the streets at National Harbor Wednesday, supporters basked in the glory of victory even though the vote to expand gambling came with the slightest of margins – 52 percent to 48 percent, according to the Associated Press.

Fireworks were shot off over the Potomac River late Tuesday night.

Dozens of casino employees from Detroit were bussed to Maryland's newest entertainment destination to stir up support.

"Being a native of Detroit all my life, I see them work in our community, benefits of that nature,” said MGM Grand Resort employee Anthony Turner. “It's a win-win for everyone.

The casino giant paid for much of the nearly $90 million spent by opponents and supporters in attack ads. The new casino can open no earlier than July 1, 2016, but the addition of table games can start popping up statewide as early as next year.

"Money is going toward education, jobs, jobs, jobs,” exclaimed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

But then again, there are those who voted against the measure.

"I didn't feel that the money was going to be used for the schools,” explained Prince George’s County resident Wendy Neale.

Maryland casinos generated $39 million in revenue last month alone, and some argue gambling already has generated nearly $500 million for education. Yet Neale just isn't buying into the long term plan.

"I haven't seen much money go to the schools since the lottery," Neale said.

At Maryland Live! casino everyone seemed happy about about the passage of Question 7, especially the provision that allows table games like Roulette and Blackjack.

Pending gaming commission approval, Maryland Live! executives hope to move quickly to newly permitted 24/7 operation and have table games operating by spring. But first they need to dramatically beef up their staff. They even plan to create a school train all those new dealers.

Maryland Live! President and General Manager Rob Norton said, "We have a fully implemented plan ready to turn the switch today, which is what we're doing, and that includes 1,200 additional jobs right here at Maryland Live!."

Question 7 also means a casino in Downtown Baltimore will break ground with a planned opening in mid 2014.

The politicians that fought for all of it say the voters got it right.

Rushern Baker said, "To have a destination resort that can bring in an additional $200 million to the state and $40 million to Prince George's County is a good thing for all of us."

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