SRB, Busch address city delegation

With hours left of Maryland's General Assembly, questions still remain over the fate of a bill to expand gambling to Prince George's Countyand allow table games at all of Maryland's casinos.

Key to the answer is how Baltimore's 18 delegates will vote on the measure. House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake both addressed the city lawmakers this morning.

Busch said he's trying to be a "fair broker" on the gambling issue, and warned lawmakers it would be unlikely that the General Assembly would look at table games again for at least four years if the current bill fails.

"The investment from Caesars would be greater if they have a full complement of gambling," Busch said. "If you believe the status quo is what is best for everyone than stay with status quo. I don't think you want to kid yourself that your are going to get table games in the next couple of years."

Busch predicted that a Baltimore casino with table games would attact people who would fly in to play. Otherwise, he said the casino would more likely draw "a local crowd."

Busch called the gambling stand-off a "chess match between the House and the Senate."

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake reiterated her support for expanded gambling in Prince George's and table games.

She said it is important to "get the ball rolling" on gambling expansion. The current version of the gambling bill would add a referendum question to November's ballot -- but the General Assembly would still need to come back next year to pass implementing legislation.

A hearing on the gambling bill on the House side is set for 9:30 a.m.


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