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Md. Senate doubles down on measure to put cards at Rosecroft

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Table games.jpgWith time running out on the 2010 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the Senate sought Saturday to improve the odds of legalizing card games at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County.

The Senate has already passed a bill that would seek voter approval to put poker, blackjack and other Las Vegas-style table games at the ailing harness track in Fort Washington. That bill is stalled in a House committee and might not make it to the floor before the legislature is scheduled to adjourn at midnight Monday.

Late on Saturday afternoon, the Senate attached the Rosecroft provisions to another bill: one sponsored by a powerful House chairman that would add Worcester County to those jurisdictions on the Eastern Shore where certain nonprofit organizations can legally have up to five slot machines.

The Senate is expected to take a final vote on that bill early Monday before shipping it back to the House. At that point, the House can either agree to the Rosecroft amendment, or the bill will head to a conference committee, where negotiators from both chambers will try to resolve their differences by midnight.

Supporters of cards at Rosecroft, who include Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), appear to be gambling that the Worcester slots bill stands a better chance of getting to the governor. It is sponsored by Del. Norman H. Conway (D-Wicomico), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

In a brief interview, Miller declined to discuss strategy, saying he hopes both bills will get favorable attention from the House on Monday. He repeated his argument that 200 jobs will be lost in Prince George's if Rosecroft closes. Track owners say they need the revenue that card games would provide to stay afloat.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has voiced opposition to the Rosecroft bill, saying Maryland needs to get its slots program up and running first. Maryland voters authorized five slots sites in 2008, none of which have opened yet. Religious and civil rights leaders in Prince George's are also less than enthusiastic about legalizing card games.

By John Wagner  |  April 10, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner , Slots  
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