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On eve of election, Question 7 spending exceeds $85M

A day before Maryland voters will decide on expanded gambling — oh, and the next president, a few seats in Congress and six other statewide ballot questions — campaign spending by casino companies have not slowed their spending.

The latest campaign finance filings with the Maryland State Board of Elections indicate that Penn National Gaming Inc. has put more than $42 million into its campaign account and has spent $41.9 million of that amount.

Penn National, operator of a lucrative West Virginia casino that draws heavily from the Washington suburbs, is the only group opposing Maryland’s law which, if approved, would allow construction of a casino in National Harbor and legalize table games such as poker at every commercial casino in Maryland.

MGM Resorts International Inc. wants to build that National Harbor casino and has now spent $40.8 million to prop up the law passed by the General Assembly in an August special session. Others, including the developer of National Harbor and a group led by Caesars Entertainment Corp. that is license to build a casino in Baltimore, have kicked in several million dollar as well.

Combined, the two ballot issue committees have spent more than $85 million to influence voters. The Peterson Cos., the National Harbor developer, have kicked another $2.3 million into a separate ballot issue committee supporting gambling expansion.

There are now five committees supporting the expansion, all mostly financed by developers who have some interest in Maryland’s casino industry.