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Delegate Outlines House Gambling Plan

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Table games like blackjack and roulette would be allowed in a new Prince George's County gambling venue and at five casinos currently allowed in Maryland under a plan that's being worked on in the House of Delegates, a subcommittee chairman said Friday.

Slots would not be allowed at the Prince George's venue, however.

Delegate Frank Turner, a Howard County Democrat who outlined plans to a panel of lawmakers, said the proposal would allow casino operators to have 85 percent of the table game revenue. The state would get 15 percent at the five sites where casinos are currently allowed, and the money would go to education, Turner said.

At a Prince George's site, the 15 percent would go to the county government. Money would also be set aside to help finance a Prince George's hospital.

The plan is scaled back significantly from a bill that already has passed the Senate. That would allow slot machines as well as table games at a Prince George's facility.

"We're in the process of trying to redo or rewrite the Senate bill," Turner said in an interview Friday afternoon.

They won't have much time. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Monday at midnight. Even if lawmakers pass a bill to expand gambling, voters would still have to sign off on gambling expansion in a statewide referendum.

The House plan would allow the Prince George's gambling venue to be within 1.5 miles of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, an area that would include National Harbor.

The facilities would have to pay a $1 million licensing fee for table games, Turner said, and the money would go to education.

Turner said the House plan does not include slot machines for Prince George's because too much money under the Senate bill went to casino owners.

"It just gave too much," Turner said. "I mean, the state got very little. The operators got a windfall, and the House is not willing to do that."

Maryland law currently allows five casinos. Two have been built so far in Perryville and near Ocean City. A third is scheduled to open in Anne Arundel County this summer. Baltimore and Rocky Gap State Park are on track to have licenses awarded to bidders.

Currently, they are only allowed to have video lottery terminals, which include slot machines and some computerized versions of table games.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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