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Key House subcommittee chairman is through with gambling

Del. Frank Turner (Photo: Maryland State Archives)

Del. Frank S. Turner, D-Howard, had enough of the gambling expansion debate during the regular General Assembly session and doesn’t want to see it revisited in a special legislative session.

Turner said at a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast that he hopes gambling bills are not introduced if Gov. Martin O’Malley calls a special session to address the “doomsday” budget cuts, according to Maryland Reporter.

Turner grew weary of the gambling debate as it became apparent that table games, like black jack, could not be added to the state’s existing slots parlors without the creation of a sixth location in Prince George’s County. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s, wants a billion-dollar casino built at National Harbor, near Oxon Hill.

Turner, who chairs a subcommittee within the House of Delegates’ Ways and Means Committee that deals with gambling issues, initially suggested during the regular session that he would amend a bill that easily passed in the Senate to only include the expansion of table games. When Miller said such legislation would not be acceptable in his chamber, Turner was forced to back off.

He abstained from a Ways and Means vote on a bill that was very similar to the one passed by the Senate, but the legislation was never reported to the House floor, apparently because it lacked the votes needed for final passage.

It remains unclear if a special session would again tackle an expansion of gambling, but Miller has said several times since adjournment of the regular session that he wanted it to be discussed again. O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, have criticized the Senate president for focusing too much on gambling in the final days of the session.