Panel To Study Expanded Gambling

BERLIN — As expected, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and the state Senate and House leadership this week announced a special work group has been formed to study an expansion of gambling at Maryland’s casinos, including Ocean Downs to table games, in advance of another special General Assembly session on the issue as soon as early July.

The work group, which will meet for the first time on June 1, is expected to make recommendations to the General Assembly on possible legislation to get the issue in front of state voters in November.

Legislation allowing an expansion to table games, such as poker, blackjack, roulette and craps, for example, as well as a sixth approved casino in Prince George’s County, died as the regular General Assembly session expired in April and state lawmakers vowed to revisit the issue in a special session. When last week’s special session focused only on the state budget, the work group was formed to begin preparing for a second special session in July.

“It became evident in the 2012 legislative session that the issue of gaming should be examined in more detail,” said O’Malley this week. “We are pleased to announce the members of this work group to consider the issue of gaming in our state. We are confident that their expertise and guidance will help us move toward consensus on this issue.” 

Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John Morton III was chosen to chair the special work group on expanded gambling. Also named to the panel was the Governor’s Chief of Staff Matthew Gallagher, Budget and Management Secretary T. Eloise Foster, Secretary of Appointments Jeanne Hitchcock, Senior Policy and Legislative Advisor Joseph Bryce and three Senators and the Delegates. Also appointed were three other Senators and three Delegates to serve as alternates. Conspicuous by their absence from the panel is any lawmaker or other representative from the Lower Shore where one of two Maryland casinos already up and running, the Casino at Ocean Downs.