ANNAPOLIS — A majority of Prince George’s County voters support the construction of a resort casino at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, which could create thousands of temporary and permanent jobs.
The $1 billion casino proposal is supported by 57 percent of voters in the county, according to a poll conducted by Annapolis-based OpinionWorks. Within Legislative District 26, which includes National Harbor, 58 percent of those surveyed supported the establishment of a casino.
The numbers were touted during a news conference at Lawyers Mall outside the State House on Thursday, where labor union leaders urged lawmakers to pass legislation allowing the establishment of the facility.
Under the plan, proposed by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, the casino would include slot machines and table games.
HB 1265 is slated for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee Friday. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is considering similar legislation, SB 892.
Mark A. Coles, a lobbyist for the D.C. Building Trades Council, called the legislation the “last real jobs bill” still being considered by the General Assembly.
Nearly 2,000 union jobs would be created during construction of the casino, and about 5,700 permanent positions would be created once the facility is operating, Coles said.
“These are good paying jobs that make a difference for Maryland families,” he said. “Here is a $1 billion private investment that is guarantees to create good jobs. The General Assembly needs to take the steps to allow it to happen.”
National Harbor is ideal for the casino, Coles said, because “the infrastructure is already in place there.”
Even if legislation is passed in both the House of Delegates and Senate, and ultimately signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley, establishment of the casino would still be subject to a voter referendum, the legislation says.
But the poll suggests that is exactly what voters want – 92 percent of Prince George’s County voters surveyed said they should decide whether the casino is established.
Among those who said they were weekly churchgoers, 52 percent surveyed supported establishing the casino, polling showed. Overall, 28 percent of voters surveyed opposed the casino, with 10 percent neutral and 4 percent unsure. Voters cited job creation as the primary reason for their support, the poll said.
The state already has two casinos — Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County and the Casino at Oceans Downs in Worcester County — with Maryland Live! Casino next to the Arundel Mills mall in Hanover slated to open in June.
The House bill, which allows video lottery operators in the state to also have table games, would create more than $20 million in revenue for the state starting in fiscal 2016, according to a Department of Legislative Services analysis. Prince George’s County would see a $20 million gain in fiscal 2016.
OpinionWorks contacted 601 randomly selected registered voters in Prince George’s County by telephone between Feb. 18 and Feb. 19. The poll’s margin of error is plus- or minus 4 percent.