08/17/2012 10:35AM

Maryland bill calls for referendum on sixth casino


Voters in Maryland will be asked this fall whether they approve of a plan to allow a sixth casino in the state and the addition of table games to the state’s casino properties.

The referendum will be added to the November ballot after the state legislature passed a bill calling for the expansion at a special session this week. The bill was signed on Wednesday by Gov. Martin O’Malley, who called for the special session.

Though the bill cuts the share of casino revenues that flow to the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries from 7 percent to 6 percent, representatives of horsemen in Maryland said that the legislation would not have a negative impact on the overall amount of revenues the industries receive because of the addition of a sixth casino. Under existing statutes, the racing industries’ share of the revenues is capped at $100 million annually.

The bill would allow a casino in Prince George’s County at two possible locations, the National Harbor site on the Potomac or Rosecroft Raceway, a harness track owned by Penn National Gaming Inc. Because Penn National is expected to have a difficult time competing for the Prince George’s license and because the addition of the casino will threaten a nearby casino it owns in West Virginia, the company will likely oppose the referendum.