Casino question spending spree tops $87 million

The spending spree surrounding the battle over expanded gambling in Maryland continued to escalate in the final days before Tuesday's election -- with the two sides reporting spending more than $87 million in their efforts to sway voters.

With Election Day activities still to come, the final spending tally appears almost certain to break the $90 million barrier -- exceeding the cost of the last four Maryland gubernatorial contests combined.

New filings with the State Board of Elections Monday showed that a ballot committee largely financed by MGM Resorts International to support Question 7 had spent more than $43.5 million, with another $1.8 million in the pipeline. A committee financed by the developer of National Harbor in Prince George's County and run by former County Executive Wayne K. Curry spent another $2.5 million to drum up support for the question.

Meanwhile, a committee financed entirely by Penn National Gaming to oppose the measure reported spending $41.3 million.

MGM hopes to open a casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County -- a step it can take only if Question 7 passes. Penn National is protecting its interests in casinos in Charles Town, W. Va., and Perryville, as well as its ownership of Rosecroft Raceway.

The two sides have unleashed an unprecedented ad blitz of charges and countercharges over the merits of the gambling expansion plan supported by Gov. Martin O'Malley. The plan would clear the way for a new casino in Prince George's and allow table games such as poker and craps.




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