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Casino campaign spending surpasses $50 million

Spending to influence Maryland’s referendum that would expand casino gambling has exceeded $50 million, according to state campaign finance records.

Proponents have retaken the lead in the money race, with MGM Resorts International Inc., which is angling to build a casino at National Harbor, adding $3 million to the cause. CBAC Gaming LLC — led by Caesars Entertainment Corp., which is planning a casino on Russell Street in Baltimore — has donated $1.1 million to the ballot issue committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc.

That brings total spending by supporters to $27.6 million. Penn National Gaming Inc., the only company opposing the referendum, has put $25.1 million into its campaign account, Get the Facts — Vote No on 7.

A “yes” vote for Question 7 would allow the construction of a casino in Prince George’s County and the legalization of table games at every Maryland casino. Penn is fighting the law because it believes Rosecroft Raceway, a facility it owns in Fort Washington, will not be seriously considered as a location for Maryland’s sixth authorized casino.

Without that business, Penn fears it will take a financial hit because Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, W.Va., draws many of its players from the Washington suburbs.

Penn National is also operator of Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County, Maryland’s first commercial gambling site.