The clock is ticking in Prince George’s County for state and local politicians to decide the outcome of legislation that could bring a billion dollar casino to the county by approving a sixth casino license for the state.
Legislators in the Maryland General Assembly have until Monday, the end of the legislative session, to back the bill that would allow county voters to decide on allowing a casino in the county. Also at issue is a referendum on adding tables games to slots in casinos throughout the state. This week, the bill received a majority backing from the Prince George’s County Council, but is still struggling to gain the needed support of state delegates.
The bill is facing an uphill battle from members of the House, including the chairman of the Prince George’s delegation, Del. Melony Griffith (D-Dist. 25), according to The Washington Post.
The bill must first receive favorable votes in committee before it is even voted on in the full House. The bill has already passed in the Senate.
Del. Melvin Stukes, (D-Dist. 44) of Baltimore, and a member of Ways and Means, said Prince George's had its chance in 2007, when five gaming locations were approved in the state. Prince George’s County elected not to have a site.
"The point is you could have had this, you probably would have been up and out of the ground and running, you probably would have been the first one online," Stukes said. "But you opted out [in 2007], now you want to opt back in."
But doubt over the bill’s outcome hasn’t stopped state and local politicians from trying to gather support.
Sen. Douglas J. J. Peters, (D-Dist. 23) in Prince George's, testified at a House Ways and Means hearing Tuesday, that because of the troubled economy the county has been forced to look for ways to generate revenue.
"And the county executive has come on board," Peters said. "We didn't have that before."
County Council member Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) has led six of the nine council members in outlining their support of the legislation, according to The Washington Post.
Capital News Service writer Aaron Cater contributed to this report.