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Bill To Allow Slots In Prince George's County Introduced

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A Maryland State Senator is expected to introduce a bill today that would allow slot machines and other gambling in Prince George's County.
Michael Kappel (http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/6032405937/)
A Maryland State Senator is expected to introduce a bill today that would allow slot machines and other gambling in Prince George's County.

Update, 4:30 p.m.: A bill that would raise the question of slot machines in Prince George's County is being introduced in Maryland's General Assembly. If it passes, the November referendum would give residents a chance to decide whether gaming would be allowed in the county.

Some of the financial incentives include 2.5 percent of slot revenues set aside for the construction of a $600 million regional medical center. An additional 5.5 percent of the revenues would go to the county's economic development fund, an initiative designed to lure new businesses to the county. State Senator Douglas J.J. Peters (D), who is sponsoring the bill, says he is introducing the measure despite his personal convictions.

"I am personally against slots, but I'm the senate delegation chair for the county, so I've gotta put a bill forward so we can at least discuss it and, potentially if it passes, then it will go on the ballot and the people can decide what to do," says Peters.

Peters reportedly told the Washington Examiner over the weekend that County Executive Rushern Baker asked him to introduce the bill, although he would not confirm that Monday. He did say why he's supporting a referendum on an activity he opposes.  

"I'm a devout Catholic, so I feel there are other ways we could put revenue into the system, but that's my own personal belief, and as a public officials I have to be able to put that aside, put a question to the voters, and see what they decide," he says.

County resident Pat Wood, like many people WAMU spoke with, is all for slots in the county. "It's going to keep the money in the county, otherwise you're going to just have people going over the border," Wood says.

Another county resident, Wilson Cobbs, echoed Wood's sentiment. "I vote yes," Cobbs says. "If it's going to bring economic relief to PG County and the area, yes." 

The bill would require a majority of voters agree for passage.

Original Story: Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has reportedly made an effort to get a referendum on slot machine gaming introduced in the General Assembly.

A bill is set to be introduced in Annapolis today that would put the question of slots to a vote on the November ballot.

The referendum, sponsored by Maryland Sen. Douglas Peters (D), would place 4,000 slot machines at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington or at National Harbor in Oxon Hill.

Although Baker been undecided over the question of gambling in Prince George's County, he's has indicated that he could support any effort that brings additional revenue into the county. Peters tells the Washington Examiner Baker asked him to introduce the bill, and Peters agreed, despite his objections to gambling in the county. 

A spokesperson for Baker tells the Examiner the county executive was not involved in the creation of the bill.

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