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Gambling companies’ ballot spending reaches $16 million

Gambling companies’ ballot spending reaches $16 million

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Three casino companies with Maryland interests have combined to spend $16 million to influence the voter referendum on expanded gambling, according to Maryland State Board of Elections records.

If approved by voters, a Prince George’s County casino license could be set out to bid, table games would be legal at all state casinos and those casinos would be able to stay open 24-hours-a-day.

CBAC Gaming LLC — a group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp. — and MGM Resorts International Inc. are funding the pro-expansion battle. Caesars wants to include table games such as black jack at its proposed Harrah’s Baltimore casino and MGM wants to build a 3,000-slot facility at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

MGM has spent $5.4 million. Caesars, on Thursday, revealed it had donated $1.1 million to the ballot issue committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc. The Peterson Cos., master developer of National Harbor, has kicked in $400,000 too.

Penn National Gaming Inc., owner of Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County, is all alone on the other side of the fight but is outspending MGM and Caesars. Penn has donated $9.5 million to the committee Get the Facts – Vote No on 7.

The company, which owns Rosecroft Raceway, believes it will not be given a fair chance to bid on the Prince George’s slots license. It also worries that a casino in Prince George’s county would decrease revenue at another casino Penn operates in Charles Town, W.Va., though Penn denies that is why they are opposing an expansion of Maryland’s casino program.

David S. Cordish, chairman of The Cordish Cos., which developed Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills mall, gave no indication Wednesday whether he would join the fray. Some lawmakers believe a deep tax cut has pacified the previously vociferous developer, who opposed expanded gambling all summer.

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