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Governor O'Malley Still Open To Special Session On Gambling

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Governor Martin O'Malley says he's still open to calling a special session this summer on expanded gambling.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports the governor is reaching out to members of the House of Delegates who opposed the plan.

A commission was assigned to build a consensus on several proposals: table games with dealers, blackjack, roulette; increasing the number of locations from five to six with a new casino at National Harbor; lowering the tax rate for casino operators. It failed.

"Suddenly, the House leadership decided that they didn't want to share in that consensus for reasons that don't make a whole lot of sense to me," O'Malley said.

That consensus would have given the governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House a framework for legislation to approve in a special session and put to voters in November. Fifty-eight percent of voters polled last week said lawmakers should work harder to make that happen and 83 percent say they want to vote on it this year.

Labor groups are running ads in favor of a vote in November. A watchdog group has sent out mailers opposing it. Governor O'Malley says he's working on it.

"I'd just like to get it resolved because I don't want it to push other important issues aside and result in the sort of gridlock we saw in years past and that we saw just recently when both sides, the House and the Senate, decided to take the budget hostage and then we ended up without a budget," O'Malley said.

In the original plan, the special session would have started a week from Monday. Lawmakers still have until Aug. 20 to get a question on the ballot.

Legislative analysts say adding another casino could bring in at least $200 million for the state's education fund.

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