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Penn National joins opposition to gambling referendum

The operator of Maryland’s first casino said Wednesday it is joining the referendum fight against the state’s expanded gambling law.

Executives for Penn National Gaming Inc., the owner of Hollywood Casino Perryville and potential casino site Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, wrote in an advertisement expected to be published Thursday that Maryland’s gambling legislation was unfairly crafted and is not in Maryland’s best interest.

Penn National registered the ballot issue committee Get the Facts – Vote No On 7 Wednesday.

“We feel we have been left with no choice but to join with other concerned citizens and local business owners in a campaign to educate Maryland citizens about the proposed law’s deficiencies, and to argue that Maryland would in fact generate more casino tax revenue for the State if the law were to remain the same, as opposed to an expansion plan that results in significant tax breaks for casino operators,” says the letter, signed by Penn National President and CEO Tim Wilmott, Hollywood Casino Perryville Vice President and General Manager Bill Hayles and Rosecroft Raceway Director of Operations Lisa Watts.

If voters approve on Nov. 6, a casino could be built and operated in Prince George’s County and table games such as blackjack and roulette would be allowed at every state casino.

Penn National could bid for the Prince George’s license and build a casino at Rosecroft if they were selected. But executives have said for months that the site selection process is stacked in favor of National Harbor, where MGM Resorts International Inc. wants to build a resort casino.

MGM has already given $2.4 million to For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., a group supporting the gambling expansion.