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Penn National kicks in $5.5 million to fight gambling law

Penn National Gaming Inc. — the scorned gambling company that believes it won’t be given a fair chance to bid on a Prince George’s County casino license — has contributed $5.5 million to a ballot issue committee opposing Maryland’s expanded gambling law.

The amount was released by by the Maryland State Board of Elections on Tuesday morning.

The committee, Get the Facts – Vote No On 7, was formed by the casino operator last week. Penn National operates the 1,500-slot Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County and a much larger facility that includes table games in Charles Town, W.Va.

As predicted by lawmakers and onlookers, the referendum battle over the law passed by the General Assembly in August has already become pricey.

MGM Resorts Interntional Inc. has contributed $2.4 million to the committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., which is supporting the gambling law, which would allow a casino in Prince George’s County and legalize table games at every Maryland casino if voters approve on Nov. 6.

MGM wants to build a 3,000-slot, destination casino at National Harbor across the Potomac River from Alexandria, Va. The gambling giant’s plan is endorsed by two powerful Maryland Democrats: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Penn National owns Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, a site that would technically be in the running to bid for the Prince George’s casino. But Penn executives feel the deck is stacked in MGM’s favor.