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Maryland Gaming Advisory Group Holds First Meeting

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David Cordish, center, speaks at the first meeting of the advisory group looking at gaming expansion in Maryland in Annapolis.
Matt Bush
David Cordish, center, speaks at the first meeting of the advisory group looking at gaming expansion in Maryland in Annapolis.

The advisory group looking at whether gaming should be expanded in Maryland held its first meeting Friday morning in Annapolis.

The group, made up of state lawmakers and members of Governor Martin O'Malley's administration, will try to reach consensus on whether the state should allow table games like blackjack and roulette at Maryland casinos as well whether to approve a license for a casino in Prince George's County.

It is that prospective facility that is causing all the friction.  Next week, the largest casino in the state will open in Anne Arundel County. David Cordish is the president of the company that owns it, and says they were always led to believe that no casino would be built south of theirs, meaning their customer base would include D.C. and its suburbs.

"Had somebody told us along the line during our 2009 licensing, 'Well, we could have another license tomorrow morning down the road to the south,' we would have built a smaller facility," says Cordish.

While Cordish is against the changes, the sole company seeking to build a casino in downtown Baltimore is fine with the plan. Gary Loveman is the CEO of Casesars Entertainment. He says a Prince George's County casino would take roughly 20 percent of their slot machine customers, but if the state approves table games and lowers the tax on revenues collected by casinos, they would be OK.

"Either of these two measures, we believe would serve the interest of all the relevant constituents in this discussion," says Cordish.

If the advisory group can reach consensus, legislation would be written that would be taken up during a second special session of the General Assembly to take place in July.

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