House Speaker Michael E. Busch  presided over a marathon meeting this afternoon of key leaders in his chamber on a gambling expansion bill.

He briefly spoke with reporters when the group finished around 4:30 p.m. and said they'd made "some headway into what we believe will be the best possible product that we can put forward."

Busch downplayed talk that Internet gambling could be part of the legislation -- an idea he had floated in a memo that he sent to lawmakers on Wednesday evening. "We really didn’t discuss it," Busch said.

When asked by a reporter if a discussion would be needed prior to putting Internet gambling in to a bill, he said: "I would assume it would."

Busch said the meeting included staff, House members of the governor's work group on expanding gambing, and members of the House Ways & Means committee. 

The speaker reiterated the four principles he laid out in an email to members on Wednesday, saying that he wants to find a way to "be fair with the tax rate," find ways to "hold the other counties harmless," givePrince George's County veto power over a casino on their land and be sure the state comes out ahead.

"We are trying to score what the revenue benefit there would be to the state of Maryland," Busch said. "Regardless of what happens we have to know there is a financial benefit to the state."