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Labor unions, republican lawmakers unite against bill to legalize iGaming in Maryland

Labor unions and GOP lawmakers join forces against Maryland iGaming legalization bill
Labor unions and GOP lawmakers join forces against Maryland iGaming legalization bill 02:00

BALTIMORE -- Labor unions representing casino workers along with state Republican lawmakers gathered in Annapolis today to voice their opposition to House Bill 1319. 

That bill would legalize iGaming - allowing slot machines and casino games on your smartphone.  While some say it would increase state revenue - others fear losing their jobs.

"We just want to make sure that our jobs are there to stay and that we can continue to give back to the community and actually have a good way of life for ourselves as well," said Kim Tobey, who works at Live! Casino.

But across the aisle - those pushing for the bill's approval say this is a big opportunity for the state to cash in.

Ron Watson, (D) District 23: "We should be able to see an additional $300 million in revenue because of iGaming."

But the additional revenue is not translating for casino workers who fear losing their jobs at the various gambling hubs across Maryland - including Yvette Eldridge - who says it's unfair for lawmakers to affect her chance to make a living.

Yvette Eldridge, works at Live! Casino: "We're just like everybody else just trying to work and get things taken care of, but to take our jobs away from us, that's not good."

Senator Ron Watson says expanding online gaming won't mean fewer jobs. It's already legal in seven states including Nevada - where there are special studios with dealers catering to online players.

"What they have been able to do is create a studio - it is a casino with no patrons - it is a studio where they have 700 jobs and the jobs of these dealers are to deal live games," said Watson.

A survey by of 1000 Marylanders revealed that 75% were in favor of expanding online gambling.

Lawmakers in Annapolis expect this bill to eventually pass - however, there are still lingering concerns about jobs and gambling addiction.

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