The Maryland State Senate has passed a bill by a 28-14 majority that clears the way for an expansion of gaming in the state. It comes after several amendments, mostly pushed by Republicans, were voted down.
One, from Senator EJ Pipken of the Eastern Shore, would have taken out the ban on financial contributions from gaming companies to members of the General Assembly, something Pipken feels is a hypocritical move by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
"It is not the executive branch's prerogative to say 'You legislative branch, you can't do it.' And in the particular case of this governor, who's taken gaming dollars, just like I said I took gaming dollars," says Pipken.
Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, says the ban ensures public confidence in lawmakers.
"I think it establishes a very firm precedent so that we are being clear to the voters: this industry in particular, which is heavily-regulated and heavily tied up within the statute and our laws, does not have undue influence on us," says Madaleno.
The bill allows for table games at Maryland casinos, and for a sixth casino license for a facility to be built in Prince George's County. The House, where expanded gaming has met stiff resistance, won't vote on the matter until Monday at the earliest.