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Pro-casino radio campaign continues

As General Assembly leadership inches toward what may be (finally) a final resolution to this year’s seemingly never-ending gambling expansion debate, the pro-gambling interest groups fighting the war through advertising debuted a new radio spot Wednesday morning.

“There’s no more time to waste,” the ad begins. And it’s right — lawmakers must pass legislation allowing a National Harbor casino and table games before Aug. 20 if the issue is to be put on the ballot for a November voter referendum.

The ad blames “a slots casino just 13 miles down the road that doesn’t want action now,” an obvious slap at the Maryland Live casino in Hanover, which was developed by The Cordish Cos.

Cordish Chairman David S. Cordish has, for months now, publicly urged Gov. Martin O’Malley and the legislature to postpone any talk of expanded gambling until the state’s five already-approved casinos are up and running. Cordish fears adding another casino will over saturate the market and substantially reduce his revenue.

The ad, airing on CBS Radio, WBAL Radio and Radio One stations in the Baltimore area, is just the latest in a campaign by a coalition of labor unions and businesses called Building Trades for National Harbor. The marketing campaign has been run by Baltimore-based Kearney O’Doherty Public Affairs.

Meanwhile, Alexandria, Va.-based Taxpayers Protection Alliance continues to air its own ads urging listeners to tell their legislators not to allow a big tax cut for casino operators. MGM Resorts International Inc. is interested in developing a resort casino at National Harbor, but only if the state’s 67 percent slots tax is lowered to the neighborhood of 52 percent.

State House sources said Tuesday that a decision could be made on expanded gambling by Friday.