by Michael Dresser
3:53 PM EDT, October 4, 2012
MGM Resorts International reported a modest increase in its spending on the ad wars over the referendum on gambling expansion in Maryland, but it isn't matching rival Penn National million for million.
The MGM-supported ballot committee, FOR Maryland Jobs and Growth, reported aggregate spending of $14.6 million on its effort to win approval of Question 7, which would permit a Prince George's County casino along with table games at Maryland's slots parlors. In its report last Friday, the committee reported having spent $14.1 million.
On Wednesday, Penn National reported that its ballot committee had spent almost $17.9 million on its effort to defeat the referendum. That was up from the $13.2 million it reported having spent by last Friday.
The latest spending reports come after a Sun poll showed the forces supporting gambling expansion lagging by a margin of 53 percent to 38 percent. If MGM doesn't step up its game soon, it could raise questions whether the Las Vegas-based casino giant is cutting its losses.
So far, however, Baltimore-area broadcast television ad buys appear to be running neck and neck. For instance, online records for WBAL show that Question 7 supporter spent $168,550 at that station for the Sept. 28-Oct. 4 period. Meanwhile, opponents spent $165,000. The two sides are following a different strategy, however. The Yes people bought 126 spots, going for the premium air times, while the No folks bought 154, choosing to more ads at cheaper rates.
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