A group supporting gambling expansion in Maryland released a new radio ad this afternoon that focuses on costs of the slot machines, which under the current law are funded by taxpayers instead of casino operators.

"Maryland is one of the only states in America with government-owned slot machines – where taxpayers pay twice as much as private companies," says a disgusted-sounding man in the ad. "Maryland is about to waste more than $290 million over the next five years on government-owned slot machines. That’s enough to pay 5,300 new teachers or 5,400 new police officers."   

There is general agreement among House and Senate lawmakers that the slot machines should be purchased and owned by the operators going forward. And, should Gov. Martin O'Malley fail to call a special session on gambling this summer, the change is widely expected next year during the regular session.

The Baltimore Sun wrote and editorialized about the steep costs that the state was paying for the machines back in 2010 when an initial batch was purchased.

The radio ad plays down the more controversial reason reason for calling a special session: Authorizing a sixth casino in Prince George's County. A work group focused on gambling expansion failed to reach consensus on that point causing negotiations on a summer special session to breakdown.

The group funding the ad is called Building Trades for the National Harbor, a coalition led by the DC Building Trades that support bring an MGM Resorts-operated casino to Prince George's County.