Blackjack, poker, roulette, craps …
“We have to be competitive with other states,” Turner said when he stopped by The Baltimore Sun’s basement office in the State House this morning. He said neighboring states have already approved table games, making an argument that sounded strikingly similar to one laid out last week by the state’s slots commission.
Also, he said, time is of the essence. Maryland’s gaming rules are detailed in an amendment to the state’s constitution, so any major changes to the program require another amendment which must be passed by voters. Those initiatives can only go on the ballot every two years during a statewide election.
Turner said he’s not the largest gaming fan, but as a member of the House Appropriations Committee he feels duty-bound to come up with ways to enhance revenues. The voters “want more services and no taxes,” he said. “You need a source of revenue.”
Turner said he plans to introduce the bill next week.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller likes the idea. “We haven’t even got the slots issue off the ground yet and we are way behind the curve,” he said in an interview. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are building schools in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Those are Maryland dollars that we need to keep within the state.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s spokesman Shaun Adamec said the administration “doesn’t have any interest in expanding” gaming. And House Speaker Michael E. Busch has been reluctant to press for gambling measures in the past.