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O’Malley calls for gambling special session Aug. 9

ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Martin O’Malley, saying he wants to remove what has become a major roadblock to progress in the State House, announced Friday that a special session of the General Assembly will be held Aug. 9 to discuss expanding the state’s casino gambling program.

“Let’s put this issue behind us,” O’Malley said.

Standing between Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s, and House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, O’Malley said legislation would legalize table games, such as poker and blackjack, allow a sixth casino to be constructed in Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a slew of other supporters were present, also.

Legalizing table games alone could bring in $100 million in revenue this fiscal year, O’Malley said.

Both measures are subject to voter approval in a November referendum. Busch said if a majority of voters in Prince George’s County do not vote for a sixth casino, that measure would not be approved, regardless of the statewide vote.

Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County and Cecil County will not see a reduction in the amount of money they receive as part of the revenue generated by Hollywood Casino Perryville and Maryland Live at Arundel Mills mall.

“They will be held harmless for their local share of the money,” Busch said.

As for casino operators, adjustments will be made to minimize the impact they feel from additional competition to the south.

Miller said the bill will be finished in the first week of August. The session is expected to last about three days, he said.