Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch each picked three representatives to a state work group that will consider gambling expansion, but neither one selected legislators fromPrince George's County, the proposed location for a sixth state casino.
Expanding gambling beyond the five slots-only casinos the legislature approved in 2007 to include a sixth casino inPrince George's Countyand table games at all six locations was a divisive issue during the final days of the 2012 General Assembly session last month. The majority of the Senate supported the proposal but the House did not have enough support to even take it to a vote.
Miller, Busch and Gov. Martin O'Malleyannounced the 11 members of the gambling expansion work group this week. The members include a senator and delegate each from Howard and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City, and four members of O'Malley's administration. Prominent businessman and chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority John Morton III will head the work group.
The work group is scheduled to meet in June. If members reach a consensus on the issue, a special session will be called the week of July 9 so the General Assembly can pass legislation in time to get it on the November ballot. Any expansion of gambling requires approval from the majority of Maryland voters.
Del. Frank Turner, a Columbia Democrat who represents North Laurel in District 13, will serve on the work group. As chairman of the House Finance Resources Subcommittee, which vets all gambling legislation before sending it to the entire Ways and Means Committee and then the House floor, Turner has taken a fairly hard stance against expanding gambling until the five previously approved facilities are up and running.