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Prince George’s Casino Debate Heats Up

Poll finds support for National Harbor casino.

The push to bring gambling and a $1 billion casino to Prince George’s County is under debate this week following testimony in Annapolis by the county executive.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker is lobbying the Maryland State Budget and Taxation Committee to amend portions of a bill that could lead to the legalization of gambling and slots in the county. The amendments, among other items, would in Oxon Hill.

“I believe that if gaming is expanded to Prince George’s County, it should be done by developing a high-end destination facility that will attract visitors, tourist and conferences...,” Baker said this week before the Maryland State Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

“I contend that this approach would yield the best economic outcomes for our county and state, enhance our image in the region and create an opportunity for us to diversify and grow our tax base.”

Prince George's County Council members have SB 892, is too vague and fails to specify what percentage of gambling revenues would go to the county.

But Prince George’s County residents already appear to be warming up to the idea of a casino at National Harbor. A poll conducted by OpinionWorks, a firm contracted by the Washington, D.C., Building Trades Council, found that 57 percent of residents who responded said they support a casino, while 29 percent said they opposed it.

Still, legislators and developers in Anne Arundel County have complained that a casino in nearby Prince George’s would take away from the Maryland Live! casino at Arundel Mills.

“We oppose any expansion of gaming sites in Maryland regardless of the location,” said Joe Weinberg, managing partner of the Cordish Cos. of Baltimore in The Gazette. “Between Arundel Mills and Baltimore City, 8,500 new slots will be coming online in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, which is more than sufficient capacity to service the market.”

Legalization of gambling still would need to pass in the Maryland General Assembly and a voter referendum. Currently, the state only allows slot machine gambling at five locations, including Ocean City, Perryville, Hanover, Baltimore, and Allegany County.

michael mcardle February 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM
The poll taken is hardly a barometer that is reflective of where residents will be once this issue gets on the radar screens of our communitieis in the county. Prince George's County does not deserve to be treated like this in 2012; one only needs to look to Atlantic City to see the effect of casinos on family communities, despite the promises and the PR of those with their hands in the pockets of the casino interests, including but not limited to our State Senate President - Mike Miller - and his eager young protoge State Senator Peters from Bowie. There are a significant number of voting, church going residents in Prince George's County. The opposition to this abomination will be organized; it will be energetic; and it will be a factor in whether this stands. Those elected officials like state senators Mike Miller and Douglas J.J. Peters, who are being paid off by the casino operators to steer this down our throats, should be forewarned. County residents are sick and tired of being treated as second class citizens, and I suspect this may be a turning point in the perception that our county is just a collection of "less do wells" as those like Senator Peters, who hails originally from Montgomery County, like to refer to us.
Michael B. Cron February 25, 2012 at 05:25 AM
The profits generated by this proposed monstrosity will never go where it is needed most. The windfall profit of this proposed casino will line the pockets of a very small select group of selfish individuals who do not even need the money. We will continue to see increases in taxes and assessments from the county and state. This proposed casino along with the already completed ones will take money from the very people who can’t afford to gamble in the first place who already rely on some form of income assistance from the county and state which is already funded by hard working over taxed individuals living in this county. This tax and spend mentality has to stop! Our elected officials need to wake up!

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