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MGM spends another $3 million on gambling referendum

MGM Resorts International Inc., which wants to build a resort casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, has thrown another $3 million into the advertising battle that seeks to influence a November voter referendum that will decide the fate of Maryland gambling, according to elections filings.

Legislation passed by the General Assembly in August would allow a casino in Prince George’s County — the state’s sixth — and also legalize table games such as blackjack at every Maryland casino. But only if a majority of voters approve the plan Nov. 6.

Casino interests on either side of the debate have already spent nearly $11 million.

MGM had already donated about $2.4 million to the ballot issue committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., which has bought television advertising statewide. Watching a football game on the NFL’s opening Sunday was nearly impossible without watching ads attempting to influence the casino referendum.

Penn National Gaming Inc., owner of Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County and Hollywood Casino Charles Town in West Virginia, has been funding the other side of the debate through its ballot issue committee, Get the Facts – Vote No on 7. Penn has spent $5.5 million on advertising already.

Executives for Penn National, which owns Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington and technically could enter a bid for a Prince George’s County casino license, have said the deck is unfairly stacked in the favor of MGM and National Harbor. In July, the presiding officers of the General Assembly and Gov. Martin O’Malley met with MGM executives to discuss their plans for a destination-type casino at the foot of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.