Casino games off the table, but for how long?

The Hollywood Casino in Perryville may see table games added to its venue, but probably not any time soon.

The Maryland General Assembly had a slew of unfinished business by its deadline Monday, including a bill that would put a casino inPrince George's County and table games in the state's slots venues.

The issue is one many Harford County legislators support, if only for the fact that it would bring in more revenue for the state.

"All [of Maryland's gambling] sites have an economic disadvantage right now in the world of gambling," Del.Mary-Dulany Jamessaid. If table games were introduced, she continued, "Perryville would then have the option to have some of that disadvantage removed."

Harford's only democratic delegate, who also represents Cecil County, believes the state "regulating a lawful business," such as the casinos, by not allowing table games is a huge hindrance.

"When the government gets into the private sector we generally don't do a good job," she said.

James also believes table games tend to attract more middle and upper class visitors who potentially have more disposable income. The result: more revenue.

District 7's representative, Del. Pat McDonough, believes the measure will come back in a special legislative session, if the governor chooses to have one, or, at least, go to referendum.

"It will dramatically change the gambling scene in Maryland," he said, and for the better.

Especially with a casino in National Harbor, McDonough continued, it would attract people from Virginia,Washington, D.C., and other "tourists with out-of-state money."

Fellow delegate Kathy Szeliga, too, believes the bill will go to referendum for a vote in November, but feels the issue is "a little hasty."

"I think we haven't even fully implemented the slots measure that was passed," she said.

Szeliga, who also represents District 7, is also concerned with slots license holders, especially the ones with the under-construction venues at Arundel Mills.

"That developer [Cordish Cos.] invested hundreds of millions of dollars into that venue under a certain set of assumptions where there would be five venues and [he] would have one of them," she said. Adding another casino, Szeliga continued, "would directly compete with him."

A sixth gambling venue could have consequences, the delegate said.

"If I was a business person, I would think twice about doing business with Maryland if they are changing the rules," Szeliga said.

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