BY SCOTT WYKOFF & ASSOCIATED PRESS, PUBLISHED BY WBAL1090AM: NOVEMBER 7
Maryland voters decided Tuesday to expand gambling to legalize table games like blackjack and a casino at National Harbor along the Potomac River near DC.
They made the call after more than $90 million was spent by opponents and supporters, an unprecedented amount in Maryland for a single campaign. The new casino in Prince George’s County cannot open until 2016, while table games could begin at the state’s three existing casinos early next year and when a new casino opens in Baltimore City near M&T Bank Stadium.
The ballot question passed by a 52% to 48% margin statewide and by a larger 59% to 41% margin in Prince Georges County. It needed to be passed both by state voters and by voters in Prince Georges County.
After declaring victory at an election night party at National Harbor, supporters of Question 7 watched as fireworks were shot off over the Potomac River.
The vote for Question 7 on Tuesday came after the most expensive political advertising campaign in Maryland’s history.
Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker and former county executive Wayne Curry declared victory late Tuesday night at the gathering at National Harbor. Lt. Governor Anthony Brown also attended what turned out to be a victory party for Question 7 supporters.
Governor O’Malley called a special session in August to take up the gambling expansion to allow table games like blackjack and a casino near the nation’s capital. Lawmakers approved the legislation, which required voter approval.
Many supporters say they voted for the ballot question to keep Maryland gamblers from spending their money in neighboring states like Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Many opponents say they voted against the expansion because they did not believe the money would be used for education as lawmakers have said.
After victory was declared by supporters of Question 7 at an election night party at National Harbor, Jim Murren, Chairman & CEO of MGM Resorts International, issued the following statement on the passage of Question 7:
“The people of Maryland have delivered a message: Sorting through an onslaught of dishonesty, voters chose to support progress. They want good jobs and more money for their kids’ schools. Many voices came together to form the Coalition For Jobs and Schools in Maryland and they all deserve great credit. Elected officials, small businesses men and women, labor leaders and union members and many others, stood up to represent the truth,communicating openly and honestly throughout the campaign. No one expected such a vicious campaign, but common sense prevailed and Maryland will certainly benefit from our hard work to fight a campaign of unrestrained distortion. Starting today, MGM’s talented team of designers and resort experts begin work on our proposal for a great destination resort for the people of Prince George’s County and the State of Maryland. We stand ready to compete with all comers for this license and the privilege to bring an MGM resort to National Harbor.”